Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Flying B'ween Trees

We went for an interesting sport last weekend - "Tree Top Trekking". It was in a slightly wooded area with tall trees. The trees did not have too much foliage towards the base. The trees had platforms built on to them and they were connected together with different assemblies of ropes. Each one of us was given a harness, a pair or carabiners, a pulley, a helmet and a pair of gloves. Armed with these gears we moved from tree to tree - some places like Tarzan and commandos. One mistake and... don't worry, if you have attached the carabiners properly you'll hang from the safety line. But a mistake makes it messy for you to get down and go back on to the course.

We started with an easy course and finally made into the more difficult and scary ones. I made the mistake of tangling up my pulley rope once and then making the second most deadly mistake of trying to correct my orientation by holding on to the guide rope. I owe my fingers to the wonderful gloves I was wearing. Then I also scratched my arms doing the Tarzan bit. And my arms had their strength tested to the limits while climbing the vertical net.

The most difficult ones are the places where I had to let myself go... had never done that before... letting myself go and trusting the pulleys to hold me. But once I force myself to push out of the platform - flying through the air was bliss. Reminded me of the flying lesson of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Can't help quoting them here...

" There is an art, or, rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. Pick a nice day and try it. All it requires is simply the ability to throw yourself forward with all your weight, and the willingness not to mind that it's going to hurt.

That is, it's going to hurt if you fail to miss the ground. Most people fall to miss the ground, and if they are really trying properly, the likelihood is that they will fail to miss it fairly hard. Clearly, it is the second part, the missing, which presents the difficulties.

One problem is that you have to miss the ground accidentally. It's no good deliberately intending to miss the ground because you won't. You have to have you attention suddenly distracted by something else when you're halfway there, so that you are no longer thinking about falling, or about the ground, or about how much it's going to hurt if you fail to miss it.

It is notoriously difficult to prize your attention away from these three things during the split second you have at your disposal. Hence most people's failure, and their eventual disillusionment with this exhilarating and spectacular sport. If, however, you are lucky enough to have your attention momentarily distracted at the crucial moment by, say, a gorgeous pair of legs (tentacles, pseudopodia, according to phyllum and/or personal inclination) or a bomb going off in your vicinity, or by suddenly spotting an extremely rare species of beetle crawling along a nearby twig, then in your astonishment you will miss the ground completely and remain bobbing just a few inches above it in what might seem to be a slightly foolish manner. This is a moment for superb and delicate concentration.

Bob and float, bob and float. Ignore all considerations of your own weight and simply let yourself waft higher. Do not listen to what anybody says to you at this point because they are unlikely to say anything helpful. They are most likely to say something along the lines of "Good God, you can't possibly be flying!"

It is vitally important not to believe them or they will suddenly be right.
Waft higher and higher. Try a few swoops, gentle ones at first, then drift above the treetops breathing regularly.

BTW, we went to a place called Horseshoe Resorts, Barrie, Ontario, Canada. This was my first long distance ride in Canada - thanks to friends who drove us there. Had an experience with the traffic cops also for exceeding speed limits on the 401 highway. Also drove a little bit inside the city.

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