time I went cliff jumping was in Hamburg, PA probably five or six years ago.
Having never done it, the thought engrossed me. In the past I’ve claimed to be
a land person. I never formally learned to swim or dive or jump in not holding
my nose but for some reason the idea of hopping off a 35ish-foot-high rock into
the Schuylkill River and spitting in the face of all that seemed bold, and I
wanted to be bold.
friends had been to the spot before. I had my own imaginings: a path that led
to a distinct peak that almost asked people to launch themselves off it for
fun. That it was distinct in my mind ensured a certain amount of safety;
whether or not that amount was particularly high wasn’t pertinent. Here’s some
context: there’s another cliff right next to the one I jumped off that you can
get written a ticket for attempted suicide if you get caught jumping off (or so
I hear…locals, feel free to tell me otherwise).
The reality was different than what
I imagined though. Instead of a path that led to a distinct cliff, the spot is
more what’s left after a hiking path ends. You essentially walk along the cliff
the whole time but there happens to be a kind descent to the water most of the
way. That fades by the jumping point, and you’re suddenly just there, and that
largely unaddressed anxiety disorder saw to it that I hesitated, froze, and
thought twice. Then three times, and four times, and so many times the only certainty
became that I was utterly insane. And then I went to the complete other end of
the spectrum, telling myself, “I didn’t come all the way out here to say I didn’t do something. And I can’t survive
something if I don’t do it. And then the only certainty became I was utterly
insane for ever thinking twice.
ridden I convinced myself to jump. I had been told the best way to do it was
mid sentence. I was mid conversation while I stepped to the edge like Wile E.
Coyote, moving until I realized there was nothing beneath me. And, like Wile E.
Coyote, my eyes got large, I felt as though I stopped right there in mid air,
and my right leg buckled as it followed my left.
I was on my
way down when, after a couple seconds, I had a wonderful thought – “I’m still
in the air? I’m still in the air!”
I hit the
water with the gravitas of a cat wearing mittens. I didn’t go in straight like
a pencil and paid the price (just use your imagination). I plowed through the
water posing as concrete until I couldn’t anymore, and then furiously pushed
myself to the top. As I came up, my friends held their collective breath like
they were the ones under water.
like you fell off. It was terrifying.”
no…but my butt definitely hurts.”
cliff jumping a couple times since then with varying degrees of success and feeling
intimidated. It was always terrifying but always rewarding.
Once you’re bold, you’re only going
to become illegible if you continue on that way. When I think about it now, I figure cliff
jumping isn’t something I need to do again.
It’s not something I need to do off
a cliff again, at least.
Today I joined Indy Hall. I’ve
never done anything that so closely evokes the feelings I had the first time I
went cliff jumping. In some sense I’m barely putting my toes in the water, but
overall I know I’m doing something bold, scary, and worthwhile. It’s the first
step outside of my mind or apartment and into the world around me to become the
writer I want to be, the self-employed individual I want to embrace and share
more than anything.
Don’t let being afraid to jump stop
you from doing it.