October 1, 2021

Pillar 2: Pushing Limits

Pillar 2: Pushing Limits

Written by Sam Buchwald

If you’ve come from Part 1 of this introduction blog, welcome back! If you haven’t, howdy! My name is Sam and I would highly recommend you to give it a geese here before continuing on, might be handy 🙂

Now, you may be wondering, what happened next? Where did you and Zac end up going? Did all this fear about pushing your introverted self out of the comfort zone just disappear into thin air? 

Great questions.

In fact, it wasn’t just myself and Zac on our first adventure. 

But before I dive into the adventure abyss, let me start with a quick debrief about being an introvert for those extroverts reading this. (Albeit, all introverts are different).

To summarise being an introvert, you are often described as quiet and reserved. You often have a small circle of close friends and find it hard to open up to people outside of those that you know well. This is accompanied by traits such as: enjoying solitude, being very self-aware and learning best visually. On top of all of this, socialising drains our social batteries, whereas for extroverts, it fuels it. The catch is that you can’t control the level of that battery.

With this in mind, I naturally didn’t want to go on this alone. So I invited one of my closest friends Andrew (we call him JuJu nowadays) to join in and experience the adventure. Andrew and I have known each other since mothers’ group - 24 years and counting. You could say he knows me pretty well, and I appreciate his company (even when that social battery runs out).

After a busy Saturday and Sunday morning catching up with some work friends at Turimetta beach, attending a surprise birthday party on the Eastern Suburbs and going to another birthday brunch, Andrew and I finally packed my trusty little Subaru Impreza with our day packs and we were off to meet this mystery man.

Due to the abnormal swell, we held off on hiking down to the Figure 8 pools and instead dropped the meeting location pin at the renowned ‘glow worm’ tunnel, aka Helensburgh Tunnel. The last time I had ventured down to the tunnel was back in 2017 and wow, things have changed. There were now these huge, ‘prison like’ gates staring down at you, obstructing the railway and path to enter this abandoned tunnel.

On the other side of these gates, stepping cautiously across the flooded railway tracks, we spotted an adventurous looking man. He had his snapback cap on backwards, black backpack hanging low, guns bulging out of his black singlet, black shorts, with plastic bags wrapped around his ankles, protecting his pristine Nike shoes and white Adidas socks. 

We called out to him before he carefully walked back, making sure not to miss calculate a step. As he arrived up to the gate, Andrew and I briefly introduced ourselves to him. It felt like we were meeting a long lost cousin through a prison fence. It was Zac. 

To the right of the gate, Zac guided us towards a narrow path, edged between the rocks and ferns. Andrew and I passed our bags through the gate before making the ascent. Leading the way, Andrew calculated a path up the rocks. Avoiding the moss and loose leaves we started to boulder up the side wall. As we neared the top, I suddenly became oblivious to my surroundings as a steady weird feeling came over me. I noticed it in my breathing first, then in my hands and feet. Inside, I could hear my heart starting to race. Each beat impounded my tightening chest. Aware of my surroundings once again, I was wary that any miscalculated step could make us slip and be impaled by the sharp spikes jutting out along the top. This was the feeling that I had been craving. This was the feeling that I had been trying to discover in my monotonous life. 

Andrew and Zac were calling me to hurry up from halfway down the railway, they were already heading towards the perpetually dark tunnel. I snapped out of my daze, scurried down the other side of the rocks, slung my gear over my shoulder and caught up to them.

We followed the tracks into the darkness. Each step we took got progressively colder and the smell of the damp tunnel crept up on us. Until eventually, the only light that you could see was the reflection of our torches in each other's eyes. It was at this point in time we knew to grab our cameras, turn the torches off and snap away to see if we could capture the glow worms.

The next location we set on the map was Sea Cliff Bridge, renowned for it’s windy road alongside overhanging cliffs and blue ocean. Being a Sunday, it was incredibly busy, but somehow Zac managed to snag a lucky park right at the start whereas Andrew and I had to drive past the bridge for quite a while until we found a spot. (Note to anyone that wants to head there, go early!).  We knew that there was a trail up the side of the cliff, so we crossed over to the cliff side and found the entrance hidden in the bushes. 

Instantly, we all knew that we were wearing the wrong shoes. As every step we took up we had to hold on to a branch, the vines, or go on all fours to make sure we didn’t slide down the steep dirt trail. After a grueling incline up, following the ropes tied to the trees and yellow marks, the horizon slowly started to peak it’s way over the top. Until we saw Sea Cliff Bridge from above, it was stunning. You could follow the path of each car winding its way over the bridge, you could see the people taking selfies 150m below. The blue sea and waves were crashing against the rocks. But, it wasn’t all bliss - the wind was insane and the closer we got to the edge the faster my heart beated. The feeling I had earlier started to creep back up on me, my extremities became numb, heart pounding against my chest. It was adrenaline rushing over me. A fear of heights. Falling. But this time I embraced it. I sat down near the edge (making sure to sit somewhere sturdy), and listened to my breathing. Calming myself down and taking in the incredible view. 

. . . 

Since this day, Zac and I have been pushing ourselves to our limits. Although the feeling of adrenaline throughout the tunnel and climbing Sea Cliff Bridge may have been smaller compared to other adventurous moments, it took us in the right direction. We embrace the feeling of adrenaline now as it makes us feel alive. We have been cliff jumping, waterfall hunting, learning new skills, meeting new people and helping them overcome their fears. We feed off this feeling and want others to feel the achievement of accomplishing something that you wouldn’t normally do. Every step, or leap, takes you in the right direction, and this is why pushing limits is our second core pillar. 

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