Thrill is no ordinary game

It is only recently, after he turned 70, that a forthright government official, sought to do away with his aversion to impulsive ‘thrills’, something that he had kept away for years. Having known him before his retirement, I used to wonder why he would avoid using the ‘red beacon’ in his official car. It was a facility, he pronounced, that an already privileged officer could easily do without.

Interestingly, his office gifted him with a red beacon as a parting gift. Having found a new use for an old toy, he started flaunting it on his car to evade dispensing toll fees at the highways. Visibly elated but equally relieved after the moment had passed, he made quite a few trips down highways eager to experience the familiar thrill.

Why would you do something when you experience fear? That is the fun of doing it, he would say. If one isn’t scared, something is surely wrong, it is a requirement to feel scared to experience a thrill. The day something doesn’t scare you, there wouldn’t be any thrill in taking that risk.

Can such a socially frivolous act be justified, however thrilling? Keep your moral prism aside, he stresses, any thrilling act has an intellectual component and is inherently creative. Without an iota of embarrassment, he tells me that hacking — the undesired act of breaking into computer systems was initiated by curious cyber kids who pursued it as an act of intellectual inquiry, to draw thrill in the pursuit of knowledge. Nobody had an inkling that one-day hacking would become big business.

Jumping signals comes naturally to us, we are wired to break norms. Some do it, but most avoid risking it. Any act that rebels against social norms or breaks institutional barriers evoke thrill and the resultant adrenaline rush is hard to forget. What is more, the sense of privilege that comes from using your skills to stand out from the public is quite memorable. You need to engage with these thrills in small ways, within the limits of civility. Suddenly, acts that would ordinarily bore you will thrill you.

This is where the family at Bali got it wrong, forced to unpack all that they had conveniently flicked from their hotel room because they were tantalised with hopes of future fortune. They had allowed an obsession to extend beyond what could have been an adventurous journey packed with thrills. The thrill of something new or weird is immensely alluring! One must not avoid getting one’s thrill on. If there’s even a slight chance of getting something that will make you happy, risk it. Author Helen Keller had remarked ‘avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure’. With no age bar, life is either a daring adventure or nothing!

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