Teetering on the Border of Neophilia

It was just a little blurb I noticed in a magazine this week.  “Neophilia [n ‘fil]: noun A love of novelty and thrill-seeking.  This trait has long been associated with impulsive troublemakers, but researchers have recently identified it as one predictor of health and happiness.  Do you like traveling to unfamiliar, far-flung places?  Are you one to make decisions quickly without much information?  If you answered yes, you might just be a neophiliac.” Health magazine, June 2012

So it got me thinking….am I a neophiliac?  I definitely have a love of novelty.  Always liked the thing that didn’t belong with the others the best.  Everyone who knows me at all knows I love traveling to unfamiliar, far-flung places.  I make some decisions quickly and without much information.  Usually only big ones…..I agonize over little things like what color to polish my toes or what restaurant to choose.  But I think that the scale of the decisions I have made with very little thought or information would probably weigh down all the others.

Am I an impulsive troublemaker?  Yeah, maybe sometimes.  Usually by necessity.  I would much rather plan and savor making trouble, but usually trouble needs to happen when it needs to happen.  (Though I want to make it clear that I always try to make trouble for the good…and hopefully never out of pure meanness.)

But am I a thrill seeker?  I never have thought I was, but yeah….maybe I am starting to lean in that direction.  We’re going to see for sure tomorrow.  I will be giving skydiving a try.  I have wanted to do it for a while, though my mental visual was doing it tandem…fully attached to someone who knew what they were doing.   While that still would have been scary for me, I am sort of an anti-control freak so the idea of someone else being in charge of it all appealed to me (though I did intend to make sure they loved their lives before we jumped and that there was no history of depression or mental illness.)

But according to my friend Damien, that is not enough for me.  No, evidently skydiving tandem is“just a roller coaster ride” (though I love roller coaster rides) and I really“want to fly.”  For some reason I bought his theory without hesitation.  OK, there was some hesitation.  But not a lot for a person of reason.  Which I think probably still goes back to my anti-control freak tendencies…I’ll do what he advises, since this is something he knows more about than me. But also it is because he is pretty persuasive…and yeah he’s right, I want to fly!  Though he doesn’t get the responsibility for my decision.  Has anyone ever known me to do much of anything I don’t want to do? 

Tomorrow I “fly” (or static jump) with Damien’s girlfriend Amanda as my instructor.  She assures me she hasn’t lost anyone yet….and she sounded confident that I would not break her perfect record.  (Come think of it, I didn’t clarify the term “lost.”  And Amanda doesn’t know me well so she may be a bit optimistic.)  I have purposely not found out a lot about it so I wouldn’t think much about the reality of it, so about all I know is that I will have to climb on the ledge and jump off the plane myself (though Amanda and Damien will be there coaching and encouraging me), and the chute will supposedly open on its own.  While I haven’t researched at length, I can promise you that tomorrow I will pay attention in class.  While I have a tendency to have a wandering mind, hopefully this will not be one of those days!  Funny how fear makes you pay attention.

So I’m not afraid yet, though that’s probably because I am just not thinking about it in much detail.  The idea of stepping off of a plane….that’s actually about a mile up in the air….is inconceivable to me.  Probably one reason I want to do it, but as someone that is so terrified of heights I don’t really even want to stand on a ladder, I know that it’s a little crazy.  When it becomes a reality, and the plane is in motion, I am sure I will be saying to myself “What was I thinking?”

But do I think I will back out?  Probably not.  I generally do what I say I am going to do.  The truth is that I do love to fly.  I love airports, I love big planes, I love little planes, I love hot air balloons…..why wouldn’t I love this?  Well, except for facing the fear of heights thing.  And having to actually step off the plane onto nothing but air.  But gravity will be taking me down, and the parachute will be softening the blow. 

When I para-sailed a couple of years ago I was a bit disappointed.  It was nice and beautiful (I was in Bermuda), but it just didn’t seem as adventurous as I had anticipated.  It was like being on a ferris wheel.  So this just may bring a bit more fun.  That is my hope.  Being scared certainly makes you feel strong emotion….and surviving that fear makes you feel strong.  Stay tuned…..and I will give you my perspective after going to school and making a jump! 

The magazine I was reading (Health) was supposed to have a quiz online so I could see if I am a neophiliac.  It wasn’t online, so I will just have to use this as my real life test!  I hope I am.  Healthier and happier…..definitely those are primary goals in my life!

Some people have told me they think I am crazy for doing this because of the danger.  Risk avoidance may keep you safer, but does it increase the pleasure in your life?  The reality is you can’t avoid risk.  Every year my company pays tribute to 175 of our colleagues who were killed in the 9/11 attacks.  That day they just went to work. 

“And wow! Hey! What’s this thing coming towards me very fast? Very very fast. So big and flat and round, it needs a big wide sounding word like… ow… ound… round… ground! That’s it! That’s a good name – ground! I wonder if it will be friends with me?”   Douglas Adams, ‘Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy.’

“…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”   Isaiah 40:31

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