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the first steps

June 24, 2013

Last night I joined a few of my ski school friends for a one night camping venture to Green Mountain Reservoir, where the water was just starting to reach a swimable temperature and the lure of the infamous cliff jumping was becoming unavoidable.

After waking up from a night of drinking around a fire and eating as many s’mores as possible, we headed for the cliffs.  The boys of course had no hesitation in immediately leaping off the 20 foot ledge, taking the plunge into the cold reservoir water.

When I approached the ledge, I remembered something that most people typically don’t forget; my biggest fear in the physical world was heights.

Mind you, this is not the first time I have cliff jumped, but the last time was into warm Carribean waters about five years ago, and from a cliff that wasn’t quite as high.

I’d nearly forgotten how terrifying it could be.

It took about fifteen minutes of sitting at the top, staring at the water lurking ominously below, trying to calm my shaking body, telling myself to just fucking do it!

The longer I waited, the scarier it got.

I pushed and pushed myself, fear somehow having a death grip on my ability to move, legs shaking in paralysis and a daunting little voice inside my head telling me I needed to keep thinking it over so that the coward in me would win…

Finally… I counted to three, and keeping my eyes locked on the mountainous horizen above me and not at the long ass plunge I was about to take, I took a couple big steps out towards the ledge and hucked my body into the air.

For the 0.8723 seconds I was suspended in mid-air, everything seemed to stop. My heart, which had been racing at a deathly rate, seemed to slow down. Brisk mountain air filled my lungs in the smoothest inhale I’d ever taken. I briefly remembered the piece of advice I’d been given… “Point your toes when you’re about to hit the water,” my buddy Tommy suggested.

I pointed my toes and landed with ease; my body swooshed into the water without pain, without a sting.

My body was still shaking as I climbed the rocks back to the roadside hangout, hands barely able to grip the sharp rocks that formed a jagged pathway back up. Gasping to calm my breathing, I was still, for many minutes after the jump, on one of the most intense adrenaline highs I’d experienced in a long time.

The hardest part, I realized, was simply the first couple steps. At the top of those cliffs this morning, it took me fifteen minutes to convince myself to take those first two small steps into a jump that would barely last a second, and would end in a feeling of victory and accomplishment.

In the end, the sheer excitement of having faced all those fears that were now irrelevant was totally worth those two simple steps that once seemed so hard to take.

About to take the plunge. My buddy didn't

About to take the plunge.

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