Sunday, November 18, 2007

Guest blogger Ruth Leckenby.
The time I thought: "Arrgghh!!!! I'm going to die"

There were times in Brazil when I thought this but I think it was one of the most amazing parts of my trip. My comfort levels were pushed way beyond anything I thought I could deal with, and yet I came back fine, better than fine in fact. A lot of my friends would probably have described me as a bit of a control freak before I went, when we went out for the day or evening I was the one counting everyone, making sure we were still all there, that everyone had sufficient food and money and generally keeping a watch over. Then the second anything went mildly wrong, I’d get in a flap and become Miss Neurotic. However over my time in Brazil, this attitude got chipped away at until I was Miss Laid-back! I got into the habit of when I was scared, when the thoughts “Arrrgh I’m going to die!” popped into my head, I’d question them. Why are you scared? What is actually going to happen? You’re not actually going to die are you? And this pattern of thinking calmed me down a lot.

The time I had to use this rational thinking the most was the day we went on a sand dune buggy ride. These are little buggy cars that drive the sand dunes that line much of the coast of Rio Grande de Norte. The first thing that I found disconcerting was that we had to stop for fuel as our driver told us, the fuel-o-meter, has broken, its corroded from the salt like a lot of the other parts of the car!!
The ‘ride’ took us into the government-protected sand dunes and we headed up a nice little bank. It got steeper though and to our left and right were very high, near vertical drops. Up ahead I saw that we were heading for a clump of shrubs, I thought “This is going to be a tight squeeze!” but I didn’t have long to think about it as, just before we ploughed through the middle of the cacti, we veered sharply to the left and plummeted down one of the previously mentioned vertical drops. My heart was in my mouth, I started to scream before realising that I was actually too scared to scream! We got to the bottom and headed for a sand bank that had tyre tracks in it, I thought…we cant be going up there can we?! And this was where the logical thinking kicked in. my thought process went something like this: “Oh my goodness, we’re going to die. Hang on, why would the driver put herself at risk. If we die, she dies too. She’d probably been doing this a while. And also, we have nelson in the car, she wouldn’t want to have the death of a one year old on her conscience. We aren’t actually going to die are we?! And I think if we were, we already would have done, so shut up and enjoy it!”

So I did and there began my way of dealing with the “Arrrgh I’m going to die” thoughts. These stopped me from being scared of finding myself disorientated in a heaving shopping mall, snorkelling when I didn’t think I had enough strength to swim back to the boat, being at the top of a flight of concrete staircase with a jubilant football crowed trying to push past me! Ok, so some of these may have been a little dangerous but with the power of prayer and a little logical thinking, I didn’t die, obviously! And I came back with a much more relaxed, care-free attitude!!!

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