It’s three-thirty on a slightly cloudy Saturday afternoon. I’m wearing a pair of old jeans, rolled up to my calves, and a pink t-shirt with the college logo on, and I’m stood at the end of a 10 metre walk of fire. I can hear people around me shouting my name, and then the guy next to me says ‘ok, go!’ But I can’t.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I had agreed to do a fire walk for charity but had begun to feel extremely apprehensive about my decision in the weeks leading up to the event. On the day, I was kept busy taking photos of visitors to the college and the impending activity was pushed to the back of my mind. However, as I made my way to the training session prior to the walk, I started to feel very anxious.
Anyone who says a fire walk is purely a question of mind over matter isn’t correct. While you certainly need the courage to step onto the coals, it is science which will take you across them safely without any burns to your feet. I won’t go into it all here, but there are numerous factors which protect you provided you follow instructions and don’t mess about. The instructor told us a few recent stories of people posing for photos mid-walk, pushing others onto the fire, and even rolling around in it. Needless to say, those tales did not have happy endings.
Once the briefing was over, we had five minutes to change and make our way outside, where an eager crowd of colleagues, students, friends and family were waiting for us. We were announced one-by-one and took our places at the start of the walk. At this point I felt genuinely afraid. Despite all the logic telling me it would be fine, I felt terrified. I watched the first of my colleagues walk across the hot coals, the spectators cheering them on, and very quickly, it was my turn, and I hesitated.
Then, the instructor, who was stood at the other end of the walk, shouted ‘look at me!’ and I stepped forward. Within seconds, I was at the other end having done my fire walk; what a relief!
That’s it! I thought. I’ve done it now. Yet, my colleagues were walking again, and now we were being invited to hold hands and walk in a line across the coals. I joined them for this one, but it wasn’t quite as quick as I would have liked and I did get a couple of tiny, and I do mean tiny, burns on my feet. (I’m typing this the following day, and they’re absolutely fine). However, that really was it for me. The others were braver, and continued walking, even over flames.
I can’t say I enjoyed the experience because well, obviously, I didn’t. I wouldn’t do it again, and I certainly didn’t feel elated, as I had been told I would do; I just felt relieved it was over. However, I am quite proud of myself for facing fear and overcoming it, and in the process, raising money for charity.