Hot feet

Majorca is a delightful island off the coast of Spain. It is a tourism hub for countless Germans and the Brits who leave the island looking like lobsters - ridiculously red from sunburn. And it was the home to criminally bankrupt Australian businessman, Christopher Skase, who lived there lavishly in exile. But for me, it was the location of a 4-day seminar.

The seminar was mainly motivational. We have a great job, we are wonderful people, we can achieve anything, etc etc. So to prove the latter point, on the second night we were presented with the opportunity to walk on fire - hot coals burning at a temperature of 1800 degree Fahrenheit. "Nobody gets burnt," said the motivational speaker, as he told us stories of how a 4-year-old girl walked across the 10 feet of burning cinders completely unscathed - shaming us from chickening out.

Unlike the Anthony Robbins firewalk I did in 2003, this guy didn't do much by way of psyching us up. "Alright, let's go," he said all of a sudden, and we all migrated down to hell's burning pathway. Everyone gathered around, watching the fire, clapping, and stopping their feet to the tribal drums playing in the background. But if I was ever going to do this I had to do it while I still had that irrational urge. I pushed through the pillars of bodies, and stood before the fiery trail as the radiant heat seared my face. I took a momentary pause in front of the freshly stoked, burning fire and stormed across - focusing on the bucket of water on the other side.

With the adrenalin running so high, I didn't really feel a burn whilst crossing over - well, ok, just once. But I made sure I didn't cheat - I walked across at a regular pace. And knowing that mind CAN have control over matter, upon reaching the bucketed salvation on the other side, I very calmly paused, lifted one foot up and delicately put it in the water. Then slowly and deliberately lifted the other burning foot up and into the bucket - all the time reminding myself that pain is merely subjective.

Success. Now I can achieve anything! But why did the soles of my feet feel as though they were still burning? I went forth and re-dipped my feet into that water bucket several more times, but it never did the trick. It never eased the burn. I ran my hand down my soles and felt a peculiarity - as though my foot was loosely covered by a second layer of skin

I hobbled into some light to see what my feet thought about all this mind over matter stuff. They were not impressed. Of course there were many tiny speckles of redness - which the speaker referred to as "hot spots" - but directly under the arch of each foot lay a big swollen balloon of pus, and my feet said "Owwwwww". I hobbled over to the swimming pool and dangled my feet in for 15-20 minutes, but it afforded me very little relief. I found walking on the cool grass nearby my only solace to the incessant burning.

I then walked 2km back to my hostel - any pressure on my newly sensitised arches caused my feet to be consumed in pain. And because my only shoes had an ironically wonderful high arch support, I spent the next three days walking around the seminar bare-foot. Most of my esteemed colleagues were very impressed.

By the third day things were healing up nicely. So I treated myself to a few minutes in the pool of the resort where the seminar was held. It was here that I managed to somehow chip a tooth doing a back-flip to impress my friends. Turns out they weren't even watching.

Three days later

One week later. Still healing

p.s. Ever try photographing the soles of your own feet? It's not easy.