My older son and my husband have so much fun on the rope swing at Family Camp every year. For the past 3 summers I have watched as they grab onto the thick rope, jump off the platform and skim gracefully over the surface of the water, before letting go of the rope and plunging joyfully into the lake below.
This year I knew it was my turn. I was tired of sitting on the sidelines while they had all the fun. So I watched carefully at the different techniques used, planned out a strategy, and on the third day of camp I got up the nerve to jump, or at least stand on the platform and “see how it goes.”
I waited until it was quiet – my husband had told everyone I was going to jump, so I knew there was a possibility of an audience, which was NOT cool with me. Apparently no woman had jumped for at least a few years, so the excitement was building in the rope swing community at camp.
My boys were in disbelief. “Are you really going to jump Mom?” I responded with a weak “I want to try it. We’ll see what happens when I get on the platform.”
I slowly walked over to the stairs, taking each one carefully so as not to slip. I made it up to the platform and told the lifeguard of my aspirations for jumping that day. The polite young man smiled at me under his fluorescent pink hat. I let a couple of boys go ahead of me, then I took my place on the edge of the platform. I grabbed the rope and… froze. Fear and lots of it kept me prisoner on that ledge for a few long moments. My boys cheered me on from the dock below. My husband had joined the tiny crowd that had gathered at the foot of the swing. I looked at the lifeguard and asked, “Does everyone take this long to jump the first time?” The polite, smiling young man reassured me that others take up to 10 minutes.
I still had time.
I looked at the water far below, I looked at the ledge I was perched on, I looked at the rope that kept both my son’s and my husband’s lives intact each time they flew out over the water, I looked at my two boys on the dock, and…. I… JUMPED!
It’s all a blur from there, there was nothing graceful about the jump, no skimming across the surface of the water, no smile from ear to ear, just a look of pure terror that I’m sure was there until the KERPLUNK of my water-landing wiped it clean off my face. I remember lots of water up my nose, scrambling to reach the surface of the water, and then… cheers, applause, smiles (on my face too!) and a sense of wonder that a moment ago I’d been perched precariously on the ledge above.
This may sound ridiculous but the jump changed me. It was really, truly awesome to take that leap. I jumped many times after that, and only one of them actually worked so that I skimmed across the water. The point is that I jumped – ALOT. I failed alot too. But the one time it worked was well worth all the other failed attempts.
I think life is like that. There are so many chances to jump, to take leaps of faith, so many opportunities to grow and change and just have fun! Sometimes fear holds us back, or time of life, or a whole host of reasons. No matter if we jump and kerplunk, or leap and fall, the only tragedy would be in never getting up on that platform, looking out over the expanse, feeling the gaze of loved ones, jumping into the unknown, and hoping to soar.