“Now wouldn’t that be a great gift”. With this thought, I begin my journey back up the path, barefoot along the gravel, over the walking bridge, and to the other side of the waterfall. Assuming my position on the edge. Nobody is watching me, I came alone, and the swimming hole is void of its usual company.
At first breath I notice the absence of fear. How amazing! Quick on the heels of this comes the symptoms of restraint within fear. Restraint cocooned in fear is much like every day restraint, coupled with a lack of breath and inability to move. There is the usual and confusing internal conversation, stretching to opposite corners of the mind. Half of me calling for action, as the other contemplates why I haven’t acted yet! As Elissa Cobb writes in her book, The Forgotten Body, “I found myself in what psychologist Keith Thompson refers to as the ‘ambiguous not-quite-here and not-quite-there… place of enormous fertility and spacious potential’. This best explains the moments after the decision to jump off a rock into water, and before my body agrees to this decision. To digest this in a larger perspective, the in-between place of life is one I often, consciously, put myself in.
I find myself approaching the edges of rocks quite often too. For me, the action of jumping into water from a measly 10ft up is ripe with the potential of a confidence boost. The physical backfire induced from this commitment is torturous. A tingly and hazy feeling floats up my spine to cloud my senses. My heart bangs on my chest as if it is attempting to beat me to the water. Tight rubber bands leap from rib to rib in an effort to close any gaps in armor. I loose the signal in my lower belly as the dial tunes to static. Resistance and fear then coat my feet to force them fixed. The only body part that seems enthusiastic with the situation would be my shoulders. They pitch themselves forward in an act of momentum as if to display their belief in my decision. All the while, my mind plays the melody of questioning what’s happening now. “Why haven’t you jumped yet? You know you’re going to do it. You got this far; you’re obviously not going to turn around NOW! Why not just walk off the edge?!?” This melody tries to reason with the fear; it wants my body to believe in its decision. I want my body to back me up, to trust me, to trump fear, and to commit.
Those moments of holding in between points is my transition. As I contemplate this more honestly I begin to realize that I am in transition on my stance on commitment. I once stood in a place of defense against anything that portrayed itself as taking time or energy from me. I seem to have lifted my leg in an act of moving forward from that place, yet I am not quite sure where my foot is supposed to land. Thinking back to my encouraging shoulders as I stand on the edge of the rock, I have an inkling that faith wants to lend its loyal reinforcement. Practice is needed to stand confidently, to trust my movement, and to let go of the fear. I find myself approaching the edge quite often. It has taken me a while to catch on, but I am learning. The height is not what scares me, it’s committing to the leap of faith, and this is the greatest gift I could give myself.
photo by Mike Benevento