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….