I recently braved the Edge at the Sky Deck in Melbourne. Standing on a glass floor suspended 88 floors above Melbourne’s landscape. Not having the best balance, and usually experiencing some vertigo with heights, I was pretty happy with how it all went. Confidence was up!
Then I donned the VR headset for a virtual walk along a plank, then to grip a handset to zip line through the parks before landing safely down below.
I am an adult. I know it’s not real. I tell myself to just walk out and nothing bad can happen. I make my tentative shuffle towards the pigeons at the end of the plank. I survive one of them flying over my head, a well as the helicopter that flies way too close to me.
By then I am about halfway along the plank. And then I freeze. Can’t move, can’t contemplate moving, or going back. I am stuck 88 virtual storeys up on a plank 4 inches wide. In my head I know it is a plank nailed to the floor and I can just step off if I please. But that is not what I am feeling. The only way I can progress is to get someone to hold my hand whereby I manage to get to the zip line. Divine providence then occurred as there was some kind of error and the zip line took me straight down to ground level. A nice young man asked if I would like to go again. Um no thanks!
The interesting thing I learned was that although I knew the reality beyond the VR headset, my feelings and reactions were still driven by what I could see…..even though I knew they were not real.
It has caused me to wonder how often we all react and make decisions based on only what we see rather than what we know to be true. It has made me ask the question “If I had someone coaching me from in front telling me to keep going and reminding me it was not real, could I have made it to the end?” This has cemented in me the importance of having a willing and available support team, ready to encourage or hold your hand if necessary.
We all walk the plank. Some can do it alone, some need encouragement, and some need a helping hand. Sometimes it’s virtual, sometimes it’s real. But the learning comes from how it makes us feel.