Whether it’s jumping off a cliff or jumping out of a helicopter or jumping into an unexpected, unpredictable, unprecedented, life changing, mind boggling life event..they are all essentially the same things and involve the same flurry of emotions. Like what are the emotions one would associate with jumping? Anxiety, angst, panic, fear? I think it’s predominantly fear…fear of that precise moment of taking the plunge, fear of the fall, fear of the outcome and fear of the side effects if things go wrong. But unless we jump we don’t really know what’s waiting for us. Or how we will feel about it after it’s done. For me, the most daunting thought would be…’what if’….what if I liked it..what if it showed me new side of life? What if it gave new meaning to my life? what if it was an exhilarating experience that couldn’t be experienced in any other way? What if it changed my perspective of life or gave it a new direction? Or simply what if it gives me a sneak peek into my true potential or calling?…the what ifs are what makes the jumping worth every other emotions we may feel.
Let me recount an experience that can probably help me convey my point.
So last year before Corona took over our lives and made us homebodies, I was in Thailand on a much needed getaway. I was sitting on the beach drinking a beer, soaking in the beauty and tranquility of the blue waters, pristine white sand with the backdrop of the setting sun and the chilly wind. Picturesque. Suddenly I noticed some people were parasailing. Now I am NOT the adventurous junkie alway ready to try every bizarre adventure one can chance upon. I am someone always scared, always timid, riddled with health issues and quite an overweight person. The kind who roll their eyes while watching others pull off daring but totally unnecessary stunts all in the name of adventure and adrenaline rush (is that even a real thing I wonder).
But that day watching the parachute sailing against the sunset made me wonder. Should I try it? Almost immediately I was flooded with a whole barrage of what ifs…what if I lose my grip..what if the I fall right down into the middle of the ocean? What if the life jacket doesn’t work and I drown..like the Titanic (because I can’t swim to save my life.. literally)…on and on came all these thoughts that just made me oppose the idea as soon as I got it. But as if almost instinctively, there were another set of what ifs circling in my head. What if this is actually fun. What if the view from top is mind blowing? What if this is actually something memorable that I can look back at years from now and say..man I did it and it was truly awesome. What if by doing this I can actually prove to myself that I am not that averse to the idea of adventure and that adrenaline rush is a real thing.
My mind was at war it seems. To jump into it or not. I was torn. After all both sets of what ifs had equal merit and were worthy of being thought through. So unable to take a quick decision (like in most life situations I am faced with) , I just sat there staring into the sky..with my gaze fixed at the parachute flying high against the setting sun.
I guess the deciding ‘what if’ was…’what if I never get this opportunity ever again..I mean this has been in my bucket list for the longest time and here I was sitting. Closest chance of actually fulfilling this crazy wish… wouldn’t I look back at this very moment And wonder what It would have felt like’…so this thought or maybe the beer I gutted down…made me decide. I was gonna do it. I was gonna go for the jump.
My husband was zapped and literally speechless at this sudden burst of bravery and adventure that I was engulfed with. But I had decided, good or bad I was going in for it.
Got my harness in place, got my set of instructions of things to do and not to do. And within 15 minutes I was ready. Since I didn’t know swimming, they sent one of their guys up with me who would take care of the manoeuvring. All I had to do was run till a point until we start flying and then hold on to the rope to maintain position.
Simple enough. Right? Well not so much. Coming to that in a bit. I did run as asked and even before I realized I was high up in the sky…with the blue ocean down beneath me and the sun almost at eye level. The initial fright was something I cannot describe in words. It was gut wrenching, heart pounding excruciating fear. For a moment I couldn’t believe I actually went through with this crazy idea and put myself in this situation. I was almost paralyzed with fear. I thought I will never set foot on the beach again or see my husband or parents again. With My eyes closed shut, I was praying for some sort of a miracle (like maybe waking up to realize I was only dreaming) to undo this horrible thing I had done to myself. Stupid stupid girl.
But after some time, the parachute reached a certain height and became stable. That’s when I opened my eyes. Slowly. One at a time. And trust me, I will never forget what I saw. The panoramic view of the city, the lush greenery, the blue ocean down below, the many hues of the setting sun…all in a single frame. Oh so so beautiful. So mesmerising. The beauty of what I saw that day will remain etched in my heart forever. In that moment, I felt fearless, I felt invincible. I felt alive. Not for long though.
While I was gliding through the air soaking it all in, Down below , the motor boat to which the parachute is attached took a U-turn to head back towards the beach. It took me by surprise and due to the jolt, I lost my grip of the rope to which I was tied. Fear, paranoia all these things that just a few seconds ago I thought I had overcome, came right back as I lost my balance. But thankfully the trainer guy grabbed me by the waist. Gradually I regained balance and gripped the rope for dear life. And a few moments later I splashed into the water.
The joy of feeling the sand beneath me. It meant that I was back on land. The ride was over. And I was back to safety. I remember sitting in the water for a long time. Thinking about the experience I just had. The beauty I had seen. The many emotions I felt while pulling off the most heroic and adventurous thing I had ever attempted to do.
Yes I felt fear. Mind numbing, heart beat stopping fear. And yet there i was. Having done it. Actually going through with it. Taking the plunge. Ticking off at least one item from my bucket list. Giving myself one experience of a lifetime. For that I thanked myself. Gave myself a pat on the back. But most importantly, this whole experience left me with one profound realization: unless you overcome the fear holding you back and take that leap of faith, there’s no way of knowing the outcome. No way of knowing what you are going to experience. and how much more enriched you are going to be when come out of it.
So next time, whether its a bungee jump (another one in the bucket list) or another crucial life altering juncture of life, I will not be afraid to take that leap of faith.
Ps. For motivation I always look at this picture of myself up in the air.