Don’t Jump or You’ll Die

  • How staring down fear and overcoming fear helps live a great life

How staring down fear and overcoming fear helps live a great life

The 35 foot jump was undoubtedly intimidating. Failing to jump high enough or far enough would mean a painful end to a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

The jump freaked the hell out of me, honestly.

“IF I don’t hit it right then I COULD fall and hit the rock and…” my mind wandering towards the worst, Resistance attacking full force to discourage my urge to live.

But doesn’t Resistance always pop up when we embark towards anything worthy?

In a moment of clarity I realized these polluting thoughts, which on the surface present themselves as helpful and cautious, were actually dissuading me from living, from pushing my boundaries, from moving forward with my life.

Resistance is just a lighthouse illuminating exactly what we need to do :: today that meant that jumping from a 35 foot cliff.

My partners for the jump were two 16 year old kids from a nearby town. Matthew was first in line to jump, then John, then me. I had joined them because, well, I couldn’t let two teenagers show me up.

We waited as others lined up to jump from the lower sections, our conversation drifting. “Where did you go to college?” Matthew asked.

“I skipped college to live on my own terms, to learn and grow while living a self defined life.”

“I want to do the same,” came his response, eagerness mixed with adversity.

“Go for it, man” I responded. “If you are confident in yourself and know you need to walk your own path, do it. Once you start giving in to what others think, it just get’s harder to break away. Start now and go for it.”

Matthew hit the jump, no hesitation, maybe proving to himself that he has what it takes to embark on his self defined journey.

John, however, was struggling.

“If I hit you on the wide open fast break, you’re not going to think about which foot to jump off or pre-calculate your speed. You’re just going to trust your instincts and slam the basketball. Same applies here :: just trust yourself.”

My encouragement flowed freely.

“Just go for it, hit it hard. If this was 10 feet you wouldn’t think twice. It’s just scary because of what could happen. Just trust yourself, trust that your body will handle it like a boss…” and on and on as he stood there over-thinking. He started towards the jump… but bailed last minute, a risky move at this height. My pep talk kept flowing. He tried again… and bailed again.

I nudged him aside. It was my time to go. I stood there, the Resistance, the fear, the “What-ifs” all attacking simultaneously, trying to convince me against making the jump, against the risk, against the danger. But these discouraging thoughts, well-meaning at first glance, were convincing me not to live, not to push my comfort zone, not to overcome.

I embraced this vigilantly. I stood there, leaning into the voices, the fear, channeling all of the negativity as a sign pointing at the exact action I needed to take. My next step was perfectly clear. It was scary, as the thoughts floated towards the negative, but I harnessed the energy knowing that it would make me stronger, push me forward, make me better.

Deep breaths. A big smile. Feel the fear attacking, trying to deter my living with every bit of negative energy.

Running. Step step step JUMP. Flying. Splash.

Victory, another notch of success, another step forward :: accomplished. Swimming off, the energy, the buzz, the adrenaline all congratulated my push through fear.

Splash! John landed behind me, safely, winning one more personal battle against fear..

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Originally posted at Medium

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