Jumping the cliff

The first time I went cliff jumping was an absolutely horrendous experience.

We’re talking a textbook belly flop. The wedgie that killed all chances of procreating.

Brain damage resulting from the amount of water rushing at about a million miles/hour up my nostrils. The guys I’d gone with, all pretty much certified cliff jumpers, hooted and hollered at my lack of form and general patheticism as an extreme person.

But after that detrimental experience, I knew I was addicted.

Short of going off the deep end, a lot of things about growing up are like jumping off a cliff. You force yourself to do it, regardless of how scared you are of heights. Even though you know the water’s deep enough, there’s still that huge element of the unknown between having your feet firmly planted on the rock and when you’re crashing into the lake.

It’s funny because just like in life, regardless of how smart or impulsive or experienced you are, you still pause at the top. Everyone hesitates to decide and think. Some people don’t make it past this phase – they scare themselves out of jumping, out of living. The unknown is just too scary, the rock’s just too high, and the water might hurt just too much.

And just like in life, there are ways of safeguarding yourself, of protecting life and limb against the waterturned- concrete that you’ll inevitably hit the wrong way. You might plug your nose. Hopefully you’re wearing at least one layer of clothing. If you’re a real princess, you might decide to wear Chocos.

When it comes down to it, though, both are learning experiences. You learn that the water’s deep enough.

You learn to jump out far enough to avoid scraping yourself. You learn that no matter what your scared brain tells you, that you’re going to be just fine.

You learn that pain itself is mostly momentary, that you’ll be smiling and yelling for no particular reason other than you’re happy only a few seconds after contact. You learn that even though your thighs might sting for the rest of the day, a little redness is a small price to pay for that feeling in between rock and water.

You learn that an entire six inches of fabric, unbeknownst to you, really can find its way up…

But most of all, you learn that when you’re plummeting towards the lake at 9.8 meters per second squared, you are really alive. With one arm flailing and maybe the other plugging your nose, everything’s clear. It’s just too bad that by the time you realize it, you’re 12 feet underwater.

That sounds like life, too.

Maybe cliff jumping doesn’t mean this much to other people, maybe it’s just a fun activity to do on Saturday afternoons and a good excuse to check out the opposite sex in their swimwear. Or maybe cliff jumping – the pause at the top, the plunge down, the contact with the lake, the scampering up the rocks to do it again – just really is life in fast forward.

So take the good with the bad, take the pause at the top with the smile from the bottom and take the two second moment of clarity with the wedgie.