The Just Jump Girl
Every time this memory appears in my Facebook-forced trip down memory lane, I get a little choked up.
I can remember this moment with fierce detail.
They make jokes, down at the bottom. They're checking and double checking and triple checking these harnesses that they're putting on you, but the whole time... someone's making a joke about jumping and "landing". (hahhaahha)
They're dispelling fear a little bit, making it seem like it's normal to suit up and jump off an 855 foot ledge. Selling the ride. Selling t-shirts and photo packages. This experience is expensive, and there aren't any refunds.
Then you get into the elevator, and arrive at the top. Up here, they're all business. Safety. There's two or maybe even three people who aren't cracking jokes. They start shouting things and pulling at your gear. You realize they don't watch each other and they're checking you independently and you ask about this; they tell you it's so everyone has fresh eyes on the equipment. So no one thinks something is right when it's not. You're not sure if that's comforting or terrifying, and you realize that there's a quote stuck in your head: fear isn't real- danger is real, but fear is a choice. You're trying hard to separate the danger level from the fear in your bones.
They lead you to the ledge. They realize you're freezing, you're doubting, you're second guessing this choice, so they give you these tiny instructions. Put your right hand here. Left hand here. Turn a little. Smile for your picture! Breathe. Now, put your toes there...
We're going to count down, then you're going to jump!
I was shaking so much that night, a cocktail of adrenaline and f*ck-it attitude running through my veins. I ran a marathon yesterday. Jumping off a building somehow seemed to pale in comparison to surviving twenty-six-point-two miles. In this one weekend, I'd conquered so much. I had no idea at the time how this version of me was just practicing for a future version of me.... an iteration of "me" that would run several more marathons and jump off many more incomprehensible ledges than this.
That night, I kept my eyes open as I willed my feet to trust my judgement and jump. It was one of the few times in my life I've ever felt really, truly, completely alive. The feeling of falling and landing was as remarkable and empowering as crossing the finish line the day before; I learned that weekend just how much power there is in surviving something that seems like it should easily be able to kill you.
Funny thing is, I've spent a lot of time on that ledge. So many times, in so many ways- going into business, moving across the country, trusting people with everything I had... Wind in my hair, the skyline out there somewhere, toes on the edge of something I can't see, shaking like hell trying not to fear the perceived danger while the countdown begins through loud speakers that everyone can hear...
I'll take the uncertainty of the fall or the pain of the run any day over a life more mundane. Those who aren't willing to jump will never know what it feels like to fall.