Splash or Crash?
I dislike heights. I’m not scared of them. In fact, I like them a bit too much. There’s something that runs in my family that when we get up high, not closed in, that makes heights dangerously alluring. I love looking over the edge, feeling the breeze caress my face and ruffle my hair. I start imagining what it would feel like to jump, have the scenery rush up to meet me, feel the rush of the wind ripping around me. I can get fixated on it, so much so that the siren song gets to hard to fight. I’ve been pulled back into a scissor lift when the other guy with me realized I was starting to climb the railing. I don’t have a death wish and so that is why I tend to avoid high places.
When I was working in California, however, I had a chance to take full advantage of what I had always wanted to do. One weekend, in between campers coming, my team was brought to a manmade lake that had once been a quarry. The water was beautiful and extremely deep in some areas. We all hopped on a boat for a ride around the lake. At one end of the lake there was a high rock cliff. We were invited to join the milling dots that were climbing the rock and jumping back into the lake. Cliff jumping. A few of the gang, immediately jumped ship and swam to the rocks. I hesitated. It took a good bit of prodding and eventually, I gave in and swam towards the thing that was making me nervous. We reached the rocks at the bottom and joined the crowd that was finding footholds to scale up to the highest cliff. I decided to try to wipe what was quickly becoming terror off of my face when I realized that the person behind me in line was 8. The tough act wiped away when I passed a few teenagers who were perched on the side of the “path” that had abandoned the ascent.
I made it to the top with two friends. A local at the top gave us the lay of the land. This cliff was apparently over one of the deepest parts of the lake. We would be fine if we jumped out from the cliff. Just jumping off would mean we might not have enough distance to keep from landing on the rocks below us. So, 1- Jump out, 2 – Fall Straight, 3 – Point your toes. Falling straight and pointing your toes would help cut a hole through the surface of the water. Bellyflopping on the surface after falling from that height would hurt like bellyflopping into concrete (or so I was told). This is all incredibly comforting when you are trying hard to remind yourself you want to do this because it is fun, even though if you do it wrong it could kill you.
I walked to the edge and looked over. The old feelings started creeping back in. The wind, the view, the distance. It started to calm me down. I’d always wanted to do this and I finally was given the chance. I experience what I had always wanted while being cheered on by others, not having them grab me by my belt. I can’t remember if I was second or third. I know for certain that one of my friends went before me. I know that the other friend’s first response upon surfacing was “I got water up my butthole!” The thing I remember most was that fantastic slow-motion feeling I had falling, how I had never felt more alive, how the cold air from falling made the water feel that much warmer and how blue the water was when I was under it. I went back…twice.
I feel like I’m in the same position again. That I am almost at the edge of something that I’ve wanted for a while. It’s not a sure thing. It’s not what I’d like it all to be eventually. Honestly, I don’t think it would make my life easier, it may very well complicate things. Did I mention that it isn’t a sure thing? Still, I feel like that this could be the beginning of something new, something that I’ve felt led to for a while. I could almost wet myself though. What happens if I’m not prepared. If I don’t jump out far enough, or if I bellyflop? How do you brush that off like I meant to do it? Still, what’s life without risk? A little egg on your face is a conversation starter. As long as I don’t lose my swimtrunks I think I’ll be all right. I’m scared, though. I’m excited. In a few days time, I think I’m going to make the jump.