PARROTS IN THE ZONE
me about the first time you can remember being thrilled.
1.A Being swung in the air, a parent
holding each arm
been your most frightening thrill ever?
2.A Smuggling a lump of cannabis from
Morocco to France. In my underpants.
the smallest or slightest thing to have thrilled you?
3.A A small piece of Waitrose Continental
plain chocolate. Maybe even not the chocolate, maybe just knowing there
were four squares left and it was time to put the kettle on.
me why you're not a sensible person.
4.A It's not
for me to say. But I do have tattoos. And no job.
were you doing the last time you were really bored?
I can't remember being really bored in the recent past.
the most uninhibited thing you've ever done?
6.A Age about 6, on an incredibly
windy day, lean totally into the wind and let my body go - and not fall.
As an adult, nothing springs to mind. Most adults confuse 'uninhibited'
with 'exhibitionist', and it's not pretty.
things have you considered doing for thrill, but were too concerned about
7.A Crimes - theft, violence
always dreamt about being a paramedic, driving an ambulance and saving
lives; what about you?
8.A A tree
surgeon, trundling along in a Landrover and saving trees' lives. Honestly.
To answer these next 14 questions, you should
think about a particular time you were thrilled.
this thrill in a nutshell, in one sentence. (there's time to expand later)
a flock of parrots..
and when did it take place?
A remote canyon region of Northern Mexico
me a bit about yourself around this time.
11.A Impoverished writer on research
did the moment arise? Was it planned?
12.A I was
6 hours into an 8-hour run/walk from one canyon to the next - this was
planned. The sighting was not.
the sequence of events leading up to your thrill, and how you felt at
each stage. The smallest detail could be important (this is your chance
13.A I (and my guide) had been mixing
running and walking for 6 hours, starting at river level in one canyon,
climbing out of it, over the top and down into the neighbouring canyon.
It was radiantly sunny and very warm and humid. The sky was cloudless.
We had set off at about 8am, working first through a tiny village, then
up and up and up the canyon wall through mango groves, cacti of all sorts
as far as the top, where we ran over the springy floor of a pine wood.
It was hard work, but pleasantly hard. Sensually there as a lot going
on: the scents of first the mango trees, then grapefruit, then the pine
and something like birch - from fruity to woody; the air was soft, almost
tangible, and we were barechested; when we stopped to eat 'pinole' (scorched
cornmeal mixed to a paste with water), it tasted blissful - slightly sweet,
light, intensely satisfying. Then as we continued through this plateau
to head for the rim of the next canyon and drop down into it, moving at
an easy jog, I began to find myself in a flow state, aka the Zone, where
effort was effortless and time had little meaning. We were totally alone
in a kind of paradisical wilderness. It was at this point, just as we
began our descent into the canyon that I heard a raucous shrieking and
turned to see a huge flock of bright green parrots whizz across me, a
few metres out into the void of the canyon, chattering and squawking and
clicking, and the brightest green against the most perfect blue of the
sky and against the red earth of the canyon.
the exact moment of thrill, how did your mind and body feel?
14.A See above - plus I felt an electric
shock of bliss at being so close to something so beautiful in a place
that was more beautiful than any human could deserve, feeling more at
one with my body than I could imagine...
thoughts were going through your head?
15.A No thoughts,
only this sort of after-the-fact rationalising later on
did you do immediately afterwards?
16.A I stood
stock still until I realised that my guide, who had been ahead of me and
round a twist in the trail, not seeing all this, was leaving me behind,
so I had to hurry away from there
were other people important to your thrill?
18.A My guide
led me through there
do you imagine other people were thinking throughout your thrilling episode?
19.A It was just me
people probably don't understand how such a thing can thrill you; explain
it to them.
above, q14. For an instant, I lost my self-awareness, my ego, in the glory
of the moment.
you did it again, what things could be added or changed to make it even
23.A something similar could
easily happen again, but never in the same circumstances, so it is impossible
to judge the quality of the moment. It could be as perfect, slightly similar
but fundamentally different