"Oh dear god," I said shakily as I slowly exhaled. I was standing on a very tall cliff about twenty-five feet above water, getting ready to jump. Why couldn't I have just taken the easy way? "Don't look down," advised the young, sunburned guide. "Just jump." Well, that was easy to say, but even with my eyes squeezed shut tight, I would still know how devastatingly high above the water I was. My cousin and the other adventurers were standing by, waiting for their turn. They wouldn't say it, but I could feel their patience wearing away like rock slapped over and over again by foamy, white water. The more I contemplated the distance, the faster the butterflies flitted about inside my stomach, their fragile wings slamming against me in a frenzied attempt to break free. I was shivering so hard inside the wet, clammy suit that was glued tight to my skin that even if I didn't make my move soon, I would slowly but surely shake my way off of the cliff. Deep breath in, deep breath out. The giant ball in my throat was swelling, closing up my throat as I choked back salty tears. Holding what little breath I had left and biting down hard on my lip, I nervously shifted my gaze to the water below me. Big mistake. The blazing summer sun shone down on dark, still water, dancing across it's silky surface in glistening patterns of light. Surrounding the small pool were tall, wet rocks that had been naturally carved over the ages and sprinkled with sparkling specks of microscopic diamonds. It's beauty was mesmerizing, but at the same time, terrifying. What was terrifying was what I couldn't see. The sharp edges of slippery rocks at the bottom of the shallow pond. Slimy green weeds that curved around thin ankles. Small, underwater creatures that nibbled on salty toes. At least the tall, wet rocks and distant, blazing sun I could avoid, I could plan ahead for. The unseen creeps upon us like monsters in the closet, silent and stealthy. It followed everyone, except they could kill their monsters. When I commanded my feet to move, they remained glued to the rock, and when I ordered my legs to stop shaking, they started to dance. I was frozen. Then, suddenly, as I looked down to see the smiling faces of my family, my monster didn't seem so scary anymore. He was just a big, bulky, useless ball of slime, filling up space in my room. My feet lifted themselves off of the ground, and walked off of the rock. I felt the dense, wet air slap me in the face as I tumbled to the water, my arms wrapped around my shoulders and my eyes shut tight. "Splash!" In just a few seconds, it was over. The cliff was above me, and the butterflies had escaped. All that worrying for a few seconds of thrill, so much anxiety for a moment of action. They say it's never as bad as it seems. I suppose i had discovered that on my own. I had found out that I could be brave, I could be bad-ass, I could jump from a cliff and come out alive. I had jumped. Because sometimes in life, you just need to jump.
February 1, 2011