Yesterday to celebrate the summer solstice, I went canoeing and cliff jumping with my boyfriend, his two sisters, three dogs, and two friends. To put it lightly, it was one of the most fun things that I've done for a while. It was also one of the SCARIEST things that I've done for a while. Although I like to thing of myself as adventurous, cliff jumping is not a daily Wednesday activity for me.
It took us about thirty minutes to canoe out to our 25-30 foot cliff that my boyfriend, Jasper, proudly announced we were going to jump off. I reacted with the tiniest of squeals emerging from my throat (not wanting to be referred to as a "sissy") and sunk a little deeper into the canoe. I simply focused all of my energy on keeping the elderly black lab, Emma, who was swimming next to us from drowning. Luckily this distraction proved to not only take my mind off the imminent cliff that we were to dive off but also was necessary for the old dog. After whistling and calling "Emmaaaaaa" as we paddled through the gorgeous landscape, we arrived at our destination cliff and the squeal that came out of my mouth upon viewing the cliff was quite a bit more audible than the one I muffled while first hearing about the cliff.
Doomsday had arrived and disguised itself as a rocky cliff on a gorgeous 90 degree day in Maine.
Looking down from the cliff was not the wisest of ideas and instead left me feeling even more panicked and ready to pee myself. Luckily I held myself and my bladder together as I enviously watched Jasper, his sister, and our two friends jumped in the water in a carefree manner. They made it look easy...perhaps even fun.
I had to go to work at 5:30 and had to give myself sufficient time to canoe back to land to make it in time. All together, I had twenty minutes left before I had to leave. Everyone began asking me, "Chauncey, are you actually going to jump?" It appears that the fear I thought I had so sneakily hidden was rather obvious to my braver-fellow-cliff-jumpers. Hooligans. This was a death trap, but I couldn't let them see my panic. "Yes, I'm going," I announced proudly in what I thought was a quite convincingly bold and nonchalant tone.
My boyfriend agreed to go with me for moral support, which I needed desperately. I wound up to run off the cliff because I was already painstakingly aware of the fate that lay sharply below if I didn't jump out far enough. Jasper's counsel were pounding in my head: point your toes, jump far enough out, plug your nose, and know that you're going to feel like you're falling for quite a bit. He could not have emphasized that last point enough.
SPLASH! We made it safely in the water although I heard Jasper grumbling about harming a certain area in his body because he was so concerned with not running into me while jumping. But I didn't care. The cool lake water never felt so good on my body. I was happy and refreshed.
There is quite a bit of back-chatter in this video but it shows a panoramic view of the pond we were swimming in while Jasper and I are still in the water post-death-defying-jump.
After another 10 minutes in the water, Jasper and I climbed back in our canoe and paddled away from our friends, dogs, and the thirty-foot-object of my fear. We were silent savoring the feeling of the pond water on our body being dried by the 90 degree sun and absorbing our incredible brave and exciting experience.
That day was incredible and special not only because of our wild activities canoeing and cliff diving, but also because I faced my fears and did something that scared me. Facing your fears can be as drastic as jumping off a cliff and as seemingly minimal as attempting that upside-down-yoga-pose that you secretly believe was created solely for gymnasts. Facing your fears is about stretching yourself outside of the boundaries of your comfort to that unknown place. It's a unique experience for each person because each of us have different boundaries. I can confidently confirm that jumping off that cliff yesterday was not a boundary braking fear that Jasper overcame. Weirdly it was more in his comfort zone, but he's from Alaska and therefore I believe that makes him good and brave with all things associated with nature and the wild. I also hope that upon reading that descriptions, he does not pummel me with a pillow. But this blog entry is about taking chancing and facing fears, which I just did yet again by printing that description of my boyfriend.
What is your fear? How can you confront it?
To quote one of my high school teachers, Ms. Klotz: "Dare to fail gloriously."