Thursday, 29 July 2010

Live life fully while you're here. Experience everything . . . have fun, be crazy ~ Anthony Robbins

It is one of my greatest ambitions to participate in the Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling Festival. For those of you who don’t know already, the Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling Festival is an annual celebration whereby 8lb wheels of double Gloucestershire cheese are chased down a near-vertical hillside in Gloucestershire, UK, by fearless athletes from across the globe, such as myself. Although the aim of the race is to reach the cheese, the winner is really the first one over the finish line, as it is impossible to actually catch a cheese that is moving at breakneck speed (cheeses have been known to injure spectators who happen to be standing too near). Naturally, the prize is the cheese itself. Thousands of spectators show up every year (admittedly, most of them are Australian), and of course there are an extensive number of injuries per annum, including concussions, broken bones and sprained ankles, although I cannot find a statistic anywhere that says someone has actually died doing it. They also invariably get a couple of streakers, which is always amusing to watch on the BBC website. This is the kind of dare-devilry I would consider trying.

The kind I would not consider would be, for example, going on Saw at Thorpe Park. Seen the movie, don’t need to experience it, thank you very much. The thing is, I don’t really get the point of rollercoasters, unless – wait, that’s just it. I don’t really get the point of rollercoasters full stop. All you do is strap yourself into a machine and let it shake you around for a few seconds. There is no cause for the high you feel, because you have not risked anything or tried anything. When the adrenaline rush fades, there’s nothing left because you spent all of your time screaming your head off. I do not think that rollercoasters count as Experiences, because, really, what are you experiencing? A very long queue, and then less than a minute’s excitement, which you paid £20 for. All you get is a sore throat and an upset stomach. You are gaining nothing. In fact, if anything, you are probably losing something – your lunch.

The difference with the Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling Festival is that you actually do something amusing and sociable, and it seems slightly more cultured, in an ‘embarrassed-to-be-English’ sort of way. There’s something to take photos of and show people afterwards, assuming that you want to show people images of yourself tumbling headfirst down a muddy hill after a large cheese. People train months in advance for this event. Yes, it’s true. They practice how fast they can fling themselves down a hillside. And did I mention that every participant has to run back up the hill afterwards? It’s also great exercise. To me, this qualifies as an Experience. In short, you’re making memories that’ll survive long after the adrenaline wears off.

So, in conclusion. If you’re living your life, then you have to really live your life. If you want to do something crazy, you have to do something really crazy. What have you got to lose, apart from a few spare brain cells? Jump out of a plane. Swim with sharks. Roll down a steep hill after an 8lb wheel of cheese. The choice is yours. Don’t spend thirty seconds having someone else make your excitement for you. DO something. There are so many real experiences to be had, why would you waste your time on the fake ones?

By the way, in case you thought I was lying about the cheese rolling:

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