Nothing gets a person quivering with excitement quite like a chainsaw, as I discovered recently.
It’s got something to do with the justifiable fear of cutting yourself in half.
My challenge was to overcome that fear by bringing down four palms in our backyard using the ole two-stroke Excalibur.
The skills required included a daredness to dream, an ability to use a chainsaw (see daredness to dream) and a reasonable disregard for Occupational Health & Safety.
As usual the only failure would be in not trying.
And the greatest measure of success would be how I dealt with disappointment.
The palms had been little when we first moved in.
But with the passage of time and the non-strategic placement of our compost bin at the base of the palms, they’d got big. Worm juice big.
The options were: intervene now, or call a cherry picker later. Enter myself and the daredness to dream.
I’d dreamt about taking those palms out for years.
But two things had stood in my way.
A misconception that I opposed killing trees. And a fear of chainsaws.
The killing trees misconception was easily overcome. Palms aren’t trees, I was told – so, sign that death warrant.
The fear in relation to chainsaws was that the death warrant might be my own.
YouTube research suggested chainsaws cause graphic self-surgery in the wrong hands.
Sometimes to those hands.
Hence I was ginger around mine, even before I started it. In fact, it took me two years to get it out of its box.
And the first thing that happened when I did was the throttle jammed.
A red-lining chainsaw at arm’s length really brings your sense of ‘‘intactness’’ into focus.
Calm words of encouragement followed.
“Do you know what you’re doing?!!”
I wish I could have answered in the affirmative. But now was not the time to ponder known unknowns. Now was the time to ponder unknown unknowns – like, where would these palms land once I started lopping?
An interesting question when you’re dealing with things the size of light poles. Ideally they wouldn’t land on the house, fence or family, but that’s by no means guaranteed.
It’s always illuminating to witness individuals at the crossroad of action and inaction, glory versus disaster, perfectly OK situation versus need to call your insurance company.
You’d like to think they’d behave calm, measured, in control.
And I’m sure that’s how it sounded as me and the lumberjack support crew debated safety ropes, where to cut and whether or not certain people had brains or not.
After robust discussion of momentum, mass and how I skipped physics at high school, we just went for it.
And by the time we got to the fourth palm, we had them dropping on a dime. Well, if the dime was near the pool, then yeah, dropping in the general direction of a dime.
Prior to that they kind of dropped where they liked, with a pretty heavy ‘‘thwack’’.
Still, they reckon champions make their own luck, and by that measure we were Bradman, Lindrum and Black Caviar rolled into one. We came, we chainsawed, we conquered. Not only the palms, but fear of fear itself.
By the end I had chainie lust. Good thing it ran out of fuel.
Moving forward I’m daring to dream of a new challenge, like rewiring the house. Hopefully use the chainie again. They’re bloody awe-inspiring things. Well, not too bloody on this occasion.