The thrill of life without the fear of trying

May 30- June 1
They say you eat an average of eight spiders per year. That is, in your sleep—although in this part of the world, perhaps on a stick.

And seeing as there was a spider on top of the towel and a lizard on the wall and some sort of flying creature trespassing through our bungalow, I reckon I'll reach my year quota in the two nights of our stay in the northern, mountain city of Pai.

To add to the matter, my covers had a dead bug and the sheets were smeared with some sort of pink smudge—lipstick stain… or insect remains?

Whichever way, unsanitary in my book.

I had been fine that afternoon as our van of 14 curved through the 762 bends of the mountain drive from Chiang Mai to Pai. The ride should be my proof that if I could make it through four-hours of motion sickness, I can sleep through two nights of a mountain bungalow shared with resort critters. For that van offered the same amount of room to be car sick as there was to stretch my legs.

Precisely none at all.

May 29

It came to me while white water rafting in Chiang Mai.

Life doesn't have to be about conquering fears-- More so, I believe, not letting our fears stop us from trying.

It’s been some time since I last white water rafted-- my hesitation a result of a fatal incident that occurred within my camp community a couple years back.

The creek we rafted through. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking. 
Caitlan and I had signed up for a group, day trek on our third day in Chiang Mai-- white water rafting a part of the itinerary. Seven other Chinese travelers had also registered, all of whom were coupled up save one. His name was Ju and was traveling alone.

We spent the day shuttling from our hotel to an orchid farm (thrilling), before parking at destination day trek. We hiked a short way up the mountain, harnessing ourselves to a thin wire of a zip line and zig zigging our way back down. The lines were attached to the trees with a man at each of the 19 platforms to catch our fall.

Though catching must have been a loose term for they tended to focus more on taking our picture (for us to later buy), forgetting to yell “brake” (in which we were to stick a hammer-like tool onto the wire in order to brake the fall) and then, for the times they managed to throw the camera aside in time, catching us in the last few seconds. 

We later paired off for elephant riding, joining together again for an hour floating on a relaxing bamboo raft, before heading out to a shallow, rocky creek for white water rafting.

I froze getting on the raft, tense as we bumped along the rocks though I knew there was no need for concern. The water toed just above the ankle.

Our raft leader instructed us all to jump the raft's right or left side each time we got stuck on a rock. Ju sat to my right, leaping (however possible while sitting on a blown up tube) as if he were wired with a box spring. Ju got creative with his jumping, covering all bases of the front end of the raft-- rather than just the edges, as the raft leader instructed. 

The rafts actual leader was probably no more than 15—a young boy that shouted instructions in Chinese.

Which was great safety protocol seeing as two of the total spoke only English. He disappeared at a point—I close to fainting. Perhaps he had drowned and why were we laughing rather than turning back and saving him? But he popped back up, having hid under the boat as, in his words, a joke.

I sensed my initial hesitation waning off as the afternoon progressed. It was a level of camaraderie that built as we fell into rhythm, I following the gentle counting of the man seated behind me in his attempt to synchronize the motion of our group's paddles. 

There's a natural human instinct for connection that transcends language barriers. Albeit our group's inability to communicate fully by conversation, we managed to work as a team getting through the creek’s bumpy course. I let the tension weigh off my chest, allowing my gaze to gloss over the breathaking scenery: the shades of green within the slopes of the mountains, the light orange buds of the fine leaved trees. Bamboo huts lined parts of the river, people sitting lazily within—many sharing a small smile as they watched the struggle of those rafting along. 

A rainbow appeared overhead as we neared the end: Mother nature's finish line, of sorts.

Elephant riding, earlier that day. Elephants don't come with seatbelts...
which makes the downward descent into the water a tad bit terrifying.

The rafting trip had been a step from my comfort zone—the zip line, one that tested Caitlan. But the tigers we spent 10 minutes petting the day before, our daily tuk tuk rides, even coming to Thailand with only eight days planned of a month away, is all just about as dangerous as a zip line with a rickety rope and a raft slipping down a shallow creek. 

We learn a bit about ourselves each time we exit the straight path of comfort. For it's the bridges and dips, the acceptance of the unplanned (a midnight treat of eight Pai spiders) and the decision to push aside a fear of trying, that can send us spinning in search of the thrill.
Of course there's worth to approaching what we fear with caution-- but in avoiding the fear, we also succumb to the fear. The definition of thrill differs per individual, but it's one that can embrace the spirit within the uniqueness of our lives. 

There's a thrill to life that we can achieve without letting the fear of trying stop us from stepping forward. In the process, that's how we stumble upon life within our lives. 

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