Fear is a very good thing. It keeps us alive, which is why we’ve all evolved to have it. The braver portion of our early ancestors didn’t last long before being munched by a sabertooth tiger or squashed by a woolly mammoth, leaving the more cautious members of the tribe to evolve, multiply and populate the earth.
Of course, our lives are cushier now. We certainly don’t have to worry about mammoths or tigers, but that doesn’t mean we’ve lost that primal fear of certain things. We still tend to give things with sharp teeth or claws a wide berth. Snakes still freak us out. We don’t like the dark, since we can’t see what’s sneaking up on us.
We also still tend to cringe when faced with a serious height. Our bodies instantly recoil. Every fibre of our being screams at us to stay away.
If you want to bungy jump, you have to ignore millions of years of evolution. You have to ignore that voice in your head that shouts: “This is a very, very, very bad idea!” After all, hurling yourself off a ledge is not normal behaviour. Your mind and body want to revolt.
During the recent launch of the RAV4, we had an opportunity to bungy jump at the Bloukrans Bridge. The thought of it was quite frightening, but it was a tough offer to turn down. I had bungy jumped before, but Bloukrans was something else. At 216m, it is the highest bungy bridge in the world. And nothing can quite prepare you for the moment that you stand at the top and stare down at the empty air beneath you. It is an overwhelming experience. It is such a strange thought – the idea that you are about to jump off a bridge towards a stream that is more than 200m below you – that your mind doesn’t truly know how to deal with it. It sort of rejects the reality of it. The best way to deal with it is probably to clear your mind and just jump with as little thought as possible. Jumping off a bridge is not a rational action, so the less rational thought injected into the situation, the better. Also, do not look down! Looking down is a very bad idea. I made the mistake looking down, and my mind immediately revolted rather passionately against the whole proposition. Luckily, though, it didn’t have too much time to mull over the situation. The assistants started counting down from five, and when they reached zero they simply nudged me off. I didn’t have much say in the matter.
And how was the fall itself? Not nearly as scary as the build-up to it. It’s actually fun, though it is such a visceral and mind-bending experience, that it goes by in a blur. That said, it is definitely worth doing. Everyone should try it at least once