A few weeks ago, I went cliff jumping with some friends. As always, the experience was a bit terrifying yet exhilarating at the same time. I’ve been cliff jumping a total of three times at a couple of different locations. If you have never gone, be sure to add it to your bucket list. I can hear mothers everywhere yelling at me to stop giving their kids bad advice, but isn’t it something we should all try at least once?
The first time I went cliff jumping, my plan was to float around in the cool waters while my friends put their lives in danger.
It sounded like the safer bet. They would inevitably need someone to haul their disfigured bodies out of the canyon or at least call emergency vehicles if need be, so it was best someone played it safe and that someone was me. I could still come home and tell people I went “cliff jumping,” because technically I did, I’d just leave out the small detail of not actually jumping… so I’d sound super cool without taking a risk. However, my first trip didn’t go as planned. As it turns out, I was misinformed about the hike and when I showed up at the watering hole, near death from the excessive heat, I quickly overcame any fear I had about jumping into the cool waters 20 feet below. Without over thinking the potential dangers, I jumped. Overall, it was an amazing experience. In fact, I repeated it all afternoon long.
On my most recent venture, I brought along my GoPro camera. I thought it might be a good idea to put my risk-taking skills on camera and since I don’t have too many courageous outings, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity. At first I was going to let someone else take it for a jump since I didn’t bring the right shoes for climbing the steep rock precipice. I soon decided to take it up myself regardless of my shoe situation, because it looked fun. I’d forgotten how hard climbing up the rocks could be, but I was determined to get to the top even if my sandals were not. Once at the top, I looked over the edge and immediately remembered how the cliff drop looks a lot higher than it does from the ground.
For a split second fear invaded.
I was hit with thoughts like:
- You were younger the last time you did this; you’re probably going to break something.
- What’s below the ominous water? Rocks? Biting fish? Swimming snakes?
- What if I can’t propel myself out far enough and end up on the news as a mangled visitor?
The fear-induced thoughts invaded within seconds. Keep in mind, I’d jumped this exact cliff before and many places prior to this day without incident- yet the fear showed up. At the moment, I was somewhat glad there was a line of small children ahead of me so I could scold myself mentally for being afraid. Soon it was my turn and I’d talked myself into it again, after all, there weren’t many ways down at this point. I got my camera ready to go and filmed the whole thing. I went up a few more times and got some different angles, passed the camera around to friends for a few videos and we all had a really great time.
When I arrived home that evening, I took a look at the videos to see how they came out. I was scrolling through still shots from one particular video on my phone when I saw it. In one of the underwater shots, the camera captured a giant boulder just a foot or two away from me. It might have seemed closer because of the camera angle, but it gave me pause. It was not a pause that I should reconsider this activity going forward. It was a pause that had I known the boulder was there, I never would have jumped in the first place. I would have seen what I thought was danger and never took the risk. After all, plenty of people were jumping without incident, so the rock must have been farther back than it looked, right? Maybe. Maybe not.
How many times do we do that in life? We hold back and sit on the cliffs of life because we are too scared to jump?
We end up convincing ourselves in a matter of seconds that we’ll never make it. The longer we stand there, the harder it becomes to move. We find ourselves at war with our thoughts and end up missing out on the joy adventure can bring. Even at times when we’ve experienced the adventure before and we know the success we can have, the fear creeps in trying to keep us from moving forward once again. Reminders of hidden boulders or times we nearly failed the first time, handicap us from taking the risk and potential gaining the rewards that come from it. Even when we are watching others do it successfully, we feel like we can’t, so we stand still. I know I hesitate more than I jump and I’m hoping to change that.
God’s going to have a harder time using me when I’m standing still. He certainly can’t do much with me if I’m paralyzed by fear.
I heard a quote the other day, “What if we exchanged fear for curiosity?” I really took it to heart because fear loses its power when you change the way you think about it. At some point my fear of jumping off a cliff became curiosity of what it would feel like to fly and do something very few people would do. I wanted to know the feeling of the adrenaline rush afterward and know I could look back and say I did it.
Fear may be our worst enemy, but curiosity is fears worst enemy.
Is your purpose right in front of you and you’re too afraid to go after it? For every negative thought that says you can’t, replace it with “I wonder what it would be like if ….” After all, that’s where dreams start, right there in the pool of curiosity.
Check out the GoPro video here.
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