Monday, December 10, 2012

Mind Over Matter, I Wish

I stood on the precipice of a 15m fall, daring myself to move closer to its edge. My legs tingled. I inched closer and the tingling spread to my chest, arms, then finally in my eyes and I felt that strange sensation of falling while standing perfectly still. I stepped back quickly, banishing several different versions of my imaginary fatal fall. I looked back to the last point I had stood before my nerves failed me. One and a half metres from the edge. Not even close.

Does it sound like I'm trying to commit suicide? Well, the part of my brain that thinks is trying to convince the part of my brain that reacts that this is NOT suicide. Its totally safe. To demonstrate this point to myself, I go to a plank of wood laying on the floor slab. I walk on it, back and forth, finally skipping on one leg before I jump off. See? I have great balance. Now go balance myself on that plank of wood 5 times wider. Only thing different is, its balanced 15m high in the air.

It's so high, says Reacting Brain.

It's got railings, I won't fall, says Thinking Brain.

Immediately, Reacting Brain comes up with 23 different scenarios to overrule this safety feature. My slim frame can slip between the rungs. The bolts holding the railing can come loose. The wood plank will break under my weight, slight as it is. Others are even more unlikely, but it managed to scare the shit out of me all the same.

Sighing, I change tact. I went to the larger platform, built over the drop I had attempted to approach. I'm not as frightened at this area as the platform is wide. There is a small area where there is a gap in the supporting wood, present to make way for taller prop supports. I try walking down this small walkway, holding on the the concrete column and steel props on either side of me. The journey should have been over in two medium-sized steps. Instead, I shuffled along on shaky legs, knuckles white from gripping for dear life. I am annoyed at my pathetic attempts to overcome this silly fear. I've seen the workers and other engineers traipse around this part without a single thought to spare for the act. I know I can do this, too. If only I believed myself.

I turn around and look at the walkway and the ground so far below it, forcefully asserting to myself that it is fine, good, okay. I stood there, visualizing myself walking across -- striding across, like the cool confident engineers gracefully loping from scaffold to scaffold. A working-class spiderman.

The tingling started again. My heart was pounding wildly and I caved again, wanting only to get away yet horrifyingly, I discover that I cannot move a muscle.


Anonymous said...

I think temporary railing tu rendah sgt, tu yg takut tu, any doubt check with safety x buat keja ni...
Actual practice, safety harness that u wear, tali clip tu kene clamp kt railings tau,
Hehe, aku jalan2 sometimes kaki tersadung kt rebar.time inspect pipe ngan conduit b4 concrete casting
Anyway, safety first! Hehehe

Jiyuu said...

Ko engineer xkan ko xtau safety practice kt Malaysia camne? Dh tentu xde sape pun pkai safety harness. Xpun, harness pakai tp xconnect kt mana2. Stkt pakai je.

Xde kaitan dgn ketinggian railing. letak la tinggi gunung pun railing tu, klo ada gap, sama je mcm xde bagi Reacting Brain.

Lubang wiring conduit through slab pun aku xberani nk dekat2 klo realize ada.

Anonymous said...


ei...i did read somewhere quite some time ago (few years back) about thinking brain ngan reacting brain, under the topic of evolution of mammalian brain..

yg reacting brain tu ialah
ini yg give tindakbalas "flight or fight"

thinking brain is cerebral neocortex..

since reacting brain tu yg control "flight or fight"..and the same time our primary instincts pun byk kat situ..

aku baca ni dulu utk understand anger management, why sometimes we are so overidden by our feelings and compulsion hehe.

RPG character