the art of jumping
i used to be scared of heights. i barely remember it now, being the kid who spent all her time in the tops of pine trees getting sap stuck in her hair and on her hand-me-down jeans. we moved south when i was twelve and the trees changed. something happened. i fell out of an old magnolia tree and landed flat on my back. it must have left a crack in me where the fear seeped in.
sixteen years ago i stood ontop of a 150 foot arch overlooking the atlantic ocean. the people and tiny cars with virginia plates kept on motoring by me never once glancing up. life is always in a state of motion that way. even when major life changing events are happening just above your head.
the wind whipped my ponytail in rebellion. flaunting its power, humbling me. i couldn’t believe how far i could see, how clear it all was from up there. i could see the coast of north carolina.
i wanted him to just drop me. or rather, i wanted to close my eyes and have him push me. this was not so much a choice for me, this jump was a present from my older brothers. a way to get over my fears. happy high school graduation, you get to jump first, baby sister.
we rode the ricketty cage elevator up together, he the summer employee with no name or face. me, the stomach full of nerves after signing my weight and life away on a two page waiver. i was strapped to a harness by the ankles and carried a very large padded spring. we got to the top of the arch, the very center of it, and he held me by the back of my beltloops. i leaned out real far and wondered if i was really going to do this. my brothers were waiting 150 feet below me. i had handed them my camera, the one i used to photograph their skydiving jumps and parachute landings. the camera that always kept me grounded for reason on earth.
i wanted him to push me. this guy i didn’t know. i wanted it to be a surprise, something someone did to me…so i could have someone to blame. this is my game, my lesson. i wasn’t ready for this to be that something, a choice i made for myself. something i actually did to myself, for myself.
he must have sensed this and let go of my beltloops. “i’m not going to drop you. you’ve gotta jump on your own.” we were up there awhile with my toes to the edge of the highest high dive i ever looked down from, leading into nothing but air with a cord that could hold the weight of my eighteen year old body.
this was the jump that took my breath, that made me smile with wind dried teeth. this was the time in my life when i screamed and no noise came out. it came as a surprise, my lack of voice. just like in my dreams. but this was real.
life goes on repeat. just like each bounce until i hung suspended by my ankles upside down over the ocean. i caught my breath and only after it was over could i enjoy the freefall and what it meant for me personally.
for me life is always cyclical events in a constant state of repeat. this is the nauseating churn in my gut that i am making decisions either based out of fear or in believe of something much much bigger that conquers fear with hope.
if i stop to think of logic i freeze with my toes on the edge. i stagnate out of fear even when i know it’s no way to be true to myself. i stagnate out of fear and it eats me alive. i’ve learned that if i listen to my heart i can hear it beating out belief and trust. it’s in that instant that i jump. quick. without thought. if i’ve learned anything over the past four years it’s to listen to my heart. it keeps me true.
it never gets easier though, this jumping.
it just gets bigger.