Good Energy

The guys at Good Energy have been really supportive and excited about the expedition, so much so that they have made a contribution which allows me to keep the blog regularly updated during the expedition, so they and everyone else can follow the journey. Good Energy supplies 100% renewable electricity sourced from wind, water, sun and sustainable biomass. CO2 from coal-fired electricity generation is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Switch your electricity supply to Good Energy using this link and not only will you be supporting the pioneering community of independent green generators, but for every sign up they get they’ll make another donation to help get the bus around the world. It helps you cut your personal CO2 emissions, helps them grow a great business, and helps me get round the world.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Mid Air Life Crisis Collision

Being a psychiatrist is the perfect complimentary profession to flying tandem paragliders according to Tom who is both a pilot and a shrink.

“People tell me all sorts of shit up there” he’s not bemoaning the revelations, but doesn’t seem overly enthusiastic about them either.

I miss the opportunity to ask him “And how do you feel about that?” which has become a running joke between us, after I impressed him with my impersonation of a therapist, nodding and grunting understandingly.

“You’d get a psychology degree for those ‘hmmm’s’ Andy”, his deadpan Australian accent and straight face hiding any trace of irony.

Incidentally, Tom confirms my suspicion that the correct response to being asked “And how do you feel about that?” by a psychiatrist is to say “Hmm, well, I don’t know. How would you feel about it?”

In one of our conversations, cum therapy sessions, Tom explains that very few of us are present for very long. Most of the time we aren’t attending to life around us, but going through it in a lower state of consciousness. Presence, or focusing on the moment, is probably what Eastern Gurus refer to as an enlightened state, and as with enlightenment, being present for a sustained period can be a euphoric joyous experience.

Adrenalin sports provide a different route to the same presence, demanding a sustained focus on the moment because of the fear and imminent risks.

It’s no surprise then that the paragliding beginner class is heavily littered with gentlemen staring their midlife crisis squarely in the face. Having done well in life, job, house, car..., they have woken up to the need to live a more real, present existence. They could have ended up in an Ashram, instead they are following the teachings of their paraglider Gurus.

In Tom’s case he rented out his successful practice and home in Australia, and now lives in a dorm room, flies every day and dishes out acupuncture treatments to the bruised students.

I go for a flight with him so I can take some aerial pictures of other pilots, and sure enough it’s the perfect environment for a therapy session and provokes me to share a really weird dream I had the night before, involving a demonic girl with no eyes and a cactus growing out of her. We both erupt with laughter as I point out a narly prickle-free cactus on the hill below us which best resembles the one protruding from the girl. “Like that one but blue. What does it mean doctor?”

“Holy shit! If you figure it out you’ll get a whole PhD out of that dream Andy.” He pulls a spiral dive spinning us towards the ground, and as the adrenalin and the G-force builds, draining the blood from my head, he calls out “...and how did it make you feel?”

“Fucking scared!” I yell back, grinning euphorically, eyes wide open and totally focused on the bright world whirring beneath me.


What do you think?