Tuesday, 28 June 2016

London Eye

To paraphrase somebody who recently summed up my feelings perfectly: going on the London Eye is something I could happily die without ever doing.

Having lived in London for several years, the thought of riding the giant bicycle wheel in the sky is one that had never occurred to me. Well... several times I have looked at the people queuing thinking, why on earth would anyone want to pay good money to go on that death trap! Never however, had I contemplated ever going on it myself, not until the Year31Project was born that is. (Stupidly) travel on the London Eye somehow made it onto the list.

Of course, I do know why it made it onto the list. I was determined to do things that were outside of my comfort zone, things that scared me, thinks that would hopefully make me feel alive. However, I also know all too well why it has just sat on the list (seemingly) never to be ticked off (rusting away like Southbank's big, rickety, old fairground ride). Going on the London Eye is something that is way, way outside of my comfort zone. So far from my comfort zone that it is somewhere out in space. In fact, I would relish the chance to travel into space, whereas the chance to go on the London Eye is something I would always actively avoid.

That has never actually been the case however. I have never needed to resist travelling on the London Eye before. At least not until recently and as you will soon be able to see, my avoidance tactics were as sharp as England at Euro 2016. In fact, instead of sidestepping the opportunity I had been given, I realised that, although I really didn't want to, it was finally time that I took a whirl on the giant ferris wheel I had so often passed and never been even slightly intrigued to ride.

A couple of weeks ago, my boss at the swimming pool, informed me that he had put me forward for a swim team incentive. That because our club had performed well and hit all of our targets, he had been invited to go onto the London Eye with several other swim managers from around the country. However, because he could not - or maybe that should read, did not want to - go, he had recommended that I take his place instead.

I remember him telling me poolside and the fear instantly sweeping over me. My first thought was: how do I get out of this? My second thought was: how do I get out of this without telling him that I am terrible when it comes to heights? I couldn't think of anything. So I said nothing. I said thank you maybe and tried to let the thought sink in. No, I tried to forget about it altogether. There was no way I could do it, just simply no way. So best just not to think about it.

However, with a little time to think about it, I made the decision to go. I say decided! What I really mean is, once my lessons had been covered/rearranged there was actually little that I could do, other than accept my fate and accept the invitation. I was going to go on the London Eye and there seemed to be very little I could do about it.

I tried to see the positive in the situation. I was going to do something from my list, the original list. Something that would take me out of my comfort zone and make me feel alive. But it was pretty hard to ignore the negative feelings. The thought that I was pretty sure it was going to make me feel as though I wish I wasn't alive. That I was going to feel the need to curl up in a ball in the middle of the glass pod, close my eyes and try not to cry, as I waited for it to be all over. Because you can't get off! That's the worst thing! No matter what happens, how bad you feel, how much you panic; you can't get off until you get to the bottom. So the worst thing you can do is panic as soon as you get on because if you do, you have another 30-40mins, until you can step back onto the safety of solid ground.

Maybe I could say that I was ill? I was certainly starting to feel ill! The apprehension was all too much. I didn't want to do this. How was I going to get out of this? Maybe there had been a family emergency or a personal problem that I didn't want to discuss?

But then it happened, Tuesday 21st June 2016 arrived - this time almost exactly a week ago - the day I was to fly the London Eye. The day I was pretty sure I was going to die from a fairly irrational fear.

I left the pool and made my way to Waterloo, where I met a bunch (of nice) strangers who I would be spending the next couple of hours, trying not to vomit or cry in front of. We met at a near by bar, where I drank and attempted to keep down a glass of coke. Well... that's a slight exaggeration! I was nervous. Of course I was. I'm not good with heights. I never have been! They make me feel unbalanced and even nauseous, as though I need to lie down or on occasions, jump off (the quickest way to the ground I guess?). So at the bar, I visited the toilet on more occasions than I probably needed to but mostly I was ok.

Until I saw it's huge, imposing structure that was:

It's just so big! All I could think was: I know it's never happened before but it would be just my luck wouldn't it, if the pod I was travelling in just fell out of the sky. But that's not going it happen right? It could though couldn't it? It could happen? It won't... but it could. etc etc.

But I knew that was just the fear talking. The fear of something is always greater than the thing itself. So I joined the rest of the group in our private pod with free drinks, snacks and amazing views of London:

and you know what? Although there were a couple of shaky moments when it momentarily stopped (which happens regularly and is no big deal... apparently) or when we were right at the top and I realised just how far up we were! Over all it was ok. I didn't feel the need to curl up a ball or attempt to jump off. It really wasn't too bad. In fact, it was almost fun!

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