Two months ago, I had an epiphany of sorts… a life-changing moment that happened in the midst of the ordinary. In the timeline of our lives, it isn’t often we can identify those moments at the exact time we breathe them, but here’s the story of my moment.
I sat on the sun-baked rock clothed in Capri pants and a t-shirt. I didn’t hike to the waterfall to jump in; I came to clear my mind and watch the crazy people leap into the murky unknown. And the pool of water had turned an icky shade of brown after the last monsoon storm. My mind never slowed as it ran through all the things that could go wrong. You could slip off Lloyd’s Log and bust your head open. I mean, the log was probably named for Lloyd after he did just that. Lloyd’s body could have still been there for all I knew. The old log could break and impale you as you plummet into the water. You could over or under-shoot the leap and break your legs on rocks jutting out that are obscured by the muddy brown pool. You could belly flop and drown after the wind is knocked from your lungs. The list went on.
I held my breath every time a child leaped from the carved log and exhaled each time their head bobbed back to the surface. In between, I’d shake my head and wonder why the parents didn’t protect their children. If I had a child, I would never let them do something so dangerous. I scanned the dozens of people around me and tried to match the offspring. I grew bored with the game when the string of unmatched jumpers grew too long for me to manage.
My attention turned to the children and the way they would just jump, arms spread wide, legs tucked, into the unknown. They had no fear. I wondered what it was like to not be restrained by the shackles of consequences. How did it feel to experience flight, even for just a few seconds before plunging into the water? I puzzled over how an anyone could jump without knowing for certain it was safe. But they did. Some hesitated, but eventually they leaped. I imagined their eyes squinted closed, but still, they jumped.
I looked down at my faded brown pants and the realization came to me: at least they came prepared to let go. In that moment, I saw my street clothes as an outward representation of my abundant supply of fears. A more alarming thought surfaced: I breathed, but I didn’t live.
On impulse, I unlaced my shoes and set them beside me. I peeled the damp socks from my pale, hardly-seen-sunshine feet. I stood and took a deep breath before walking toward the water. I gasped as the shock of cool water met my hot skin. Thigh-deep in the unknown, I considered turning back. But I’d gone this far. I continued until my feet no longer touched the bottom, then I swam toward Lloyd’s log. I shimmied up the submerged log and crawled up the crudely-carved stairs. With shaky legs, I stood on the last step. Things that could go wrong began to cloud my mind, but I jumped before they could paralyze me.
I didn’t hit my head on the log. The log didn’t crack and I didn’t break any bones. Lloyd’s corpse didn’t reach up and pull me under. I wasn’t afflicted with flesh-eating bacteria. The silt washed off my skin in a warm shower.
The thing is, my outward appearance is no different than it was before, but the moment I leaped from Lloyd’s Log with my arms stretched like a bird in flight, I lived.
This story is fiction but was inspired by some real thoughts and introspection that I’ve had. At church on Sunday, they talked of faith. Faith is often believing in something we cannot see or prove, and trusting that the outcome will be for our good. Fear is the exact opposite of faith. When there is fear, faith is a risk. Like the character in this story, I tend to see all the harmful/dangerous things that could come from any given situation. I recognize that I need to lean on my faith more.
Still, I did not leap into the
nasty murky water from a carved log. There are certain things I couldn’t work past… like, where do all these beer-drinking people go to the bathroom? Oh, I knew….
Baby steps 🙂
There are times you have to have faith in yourself and your own abilities and step up and take the plunge.
Faith is important… without it we don’t grow. Thanks for sharing your comment, Timothy!
From my dads stories of the wells out in Arizona, I wouldn’t jump in the water either. This does bring back some things such as jumping off a roof with a sheet to see if it works like a parachute, it does not. But kids don’t think of stuff like that. They want to take advantage of that day as best they know how. When given the opportunity to do something, we as adults contemplate what we are going to do and the risks involved while most kids and I guess some adults have not had that part of their brain developed yet. This was a nice fictional story of life. I’m glad you are writing more and working on able to live again.
I’m glad it’s not just me that cringes at the water (you won’t catch me at Slide Rock or Salt River, either!) Some kids really do take advantage of seizing the day… I was never one of those. From a young age, I’ve too much consciousness about consequences and the downside of risks. Thanks for taking time to read the story. I wish I had more time to write, but I’m glad to at least get something written this week 🙂
Loved this line: “I wondered what it was like to not be restrained by the shackles of consequences.”
We might as well live. ~ Dorothy Parker
Thanks for reading, Nancy! While it’s good to contemplate risks, sometimes this contemplation leads to inaction.
Very good…. Our fears can paralyse us
That is so true! Thanks for stopping by to read the story, Sue 🙂
You’re welcome, Janna!
“where do all these beer-drinking people go to the bathroom? Oh, I knew….”
They go to the bathroom when they go to it. Where they take a leak, now that is a different matter.
Ah, semantics 🙂 Wherever they relieve themselves, it’s not in a flushing toilet 🙂 Thanks for reading, Carl!
Yep. That is living. Honestly, there’s risk getting out of bed in the morning or crossing the street. However, a life that “never” pursues new experiences is not life at all. It doesn’t mean taking ridiculous risks. I don’t plant to ever skydive. I can go to my grave happily without having done it, but I still take risks that in my mind are acceptable “for me” and they create new experiences. That’s living. Each of us needs to “live” in our own unique way. It’s always scary, but in the long run it’s good for us. I think your story brought this out beautifully. So good to see you writing again. I always love your work.
Thanks for reading, EagleAye. I’m with you on the sky diving. Not going to happen! I look forward to getting back to writing. I sure have missed the blog world and am trying to figure out how to get back into it more 🙂
Great story Janna! You captured the essence of uncertainty and fear that comes from taking risks but embracing it anyway.
Outwardly there are no changes, but inside there are!
I tend to play it safe, so of course I would like to be one of those that can “go for it” 🙂 Thanks for reading, Joanne!
As long as we don’t think that faith means we need be jump into every body water we come across, just to acknowledge and overcome a fear. Fear the Lord, not the situation. If the Lord says avoid the situation then avoid the situation (1 Kings 13:26), whether it’s a fearful one or not. If the Lord says take the plunge … then be prepare to walk that plank, Jonah. Attune, Listen, Follow. Whilst taking the plunge might be frightening, not all bodies of water need be dived into. Rather, only the ones Yahuwah commands of us to dive into must we dive into (regardless of our own fear). Yahuwah knows when we should (and should not) act. Our job is to listen and act on that command. Sometimes that act requires us to take an apparent risk, but equally the act can require of us to NOT take risk. “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'” The trick is knowing which body of water (and when) to dive into and which to avoid. The trick is in knowing Elohym. Obedience is strength: whether that obedience in any given situation requires us to act or, equally, to not act.
It is true that every risk isn’t meant to be taken- we do need to be in tune to what we are led to do. Where I struggle is in finding this direction. I often don’t have a clear sense of what risks should be taken vs. avoided. Thanks for stopping by, P Bobby. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on this!
LOL You had to bring that up!
Those are the kinds of things that come to mind. Boy, I wish they wouldn’t, Patti!
I so relate Janna!! A grand plunge!!
Thanks for reading, TDM! I tend to avoid risk, so of course it was fun to write a story about someone who managed to overcome that 🙂
loved it Janna! 🙂
A wonderful story to reflect your mood. I hope you manage to take that leap, whatever it entails, and find the faith. You’re right about the baby steps 😀
To me, risk is moving from what I know into uncertainty… I’ve been in this for many months and am just now getting to the point it doesn’t freak me out. Thanks for reading, Mel 🙂
Outstanding, Janna! I can really relate to this one. I think perhaps it’s because we’re writers that we imagine all the What Ifs. Our brains just naturally work that way, and it’s good…when we’re writing. But there’s a difference between writing fiction and living life.
Many years ago, I heard a sermon in church that resonated with me. It was about letting go and letting God. Not an easy thing to do, you know, because our imaginations (and fears) tend to immobilize us. But perhaps the only true way to live is to dance in the rain…and jump off the occasional log!!
I’ve been working on the ‘letting go’ that you mention. I find myself slipping into the old habit of over-thinking and planning and realize that I’m not letting go. It is a conscious effort to make myself see that things are out of my hands and I have to trust that God will provide. Thanks for reading, Debbie
Always wondered abou that Lloyd guy – was he the younger dare devil son…that they used as a measure ?(Well, Lloyd did it and lived, so I guess we can…)
Great story ( and we know about those beer drinkers…)
Haha, I should do some research to find out who this Lloyd was 🙂 Calculated risks is a good way to put it, Phil… thanks for stopping by to add your thoughts!
Probably a ne’er-do-well that cost the family dearly with his schemes? OR that’s what I always imagined. 🙂
This piece soars with meaning and poignancy… I love that last touch of ‘I lived’ – bringing the symbolism of standing as an outsider to ‘jumping in’ full circle. May we each live from our faith more. There’s so much more for us that we’ve not yet seen. There is hope…
Thanks for reading, GodGirl. It is easy to say we have faith but it is harder to live it… but it’s when we live it that we see how amazing life can be. I’m slowly learning, haha.
Lovely story, Janna – beautifully written and so meaningful. xo
Thanks so much for reading, Nurse Kelly! For me, it’s easier to play it safe, but we learn more when we take reasonable chances (nothing stupid or dangerous though, haha!)
I agree! 🙂
Great story, and by the way, I’m all for baby steps! God has a soft heart for little ones…
Thanks for sharing your comment, Allen! I’ve always been on the cautious side myself 🙂
Sometimes we just have to take that leap, Janna. Great story xxxx
Thanks, Dianne… taking the leap takes courage but it is a good thing sometimes 🙂
Take the leap, get back on the horse, dive right in! Don’t be afraid of life. The bad helps you to appreciate the good that much more. Now, I’m done with my platitudes.I enjoyed this story, as I do all your stories. And a relatively happy ending? What’s got into you?
A person has to take the leap and have faith or be stuck in a rut forever. ♥
Goodness, how much I’ve missed over weeks of being sick. A great piece, Janna, and I wondered just how fictional it felt as you wrote it. Love it!
I would not jump into the water. I’d tread on it carefully and with much fear. 🙂
Honestly, I wouldn’t jump either, Imelda 😉
🙂 Cowards, us. 😉 Or maybe, just plain careful.
Careful sounds better, so I’ll go with that!