I don’t even know where to start. I am not yet sure my thoughts are properly collected and neatly put together, but I will attempt to explain my day.
Today is my birthday. A very special day for me. Always has been, always will be. I decided a few years ago that I would always celebrate my birthday by doing something special for myself. This year, I decided I wanted to go bungee jumping. I was inspired to jump by a young lady called Helena. She is my mentee and has also become my dear friend. She is vivacious, full of life, a great thinker/leader, an activist, and a dare devil. She did the bungee jump in February this year, while attending a workshop at Jinja Nile Resort. She posted her video on her Facebook page and I was inspired to take the plunge on my birthday.
My dear sweet little brother (they don’t come any dearer and sweeter than him), agreed to escort me to Jinja to take the plunge, as did another dear friend called Penny. Both have ever done the bungee jump, so they were my cheer-leading crew for today. We arrived in Jinja quite early and I proceeded to the reception desk, after a quick visit to the bathroom to empty my bowels. On the way to the reception, I looked over to the bungee tower, and I told myself it was not too high. I told myself I could do this. I marched majestically to the reception desk, and I proceeded to sign a waiver form, saying that I would in no way sue or seek compensation from Adrift (the company), if anything happened to me. The lawyer in me cringed, but I signed the waiver anyway. I then weighed myself and the receptionist wrote my weight on my hand.
The bungee crew arrived soon thereafter, and I made my way up the bungee tower. The tower is quite high! And that to me was the first sign of trouble! On top of that, my brother, who had agreed to jump with me, stopped half way up the steps of the tower, saying that he was to afraid of heights. I soldiered on. I got to the top of the steps and then walked a green plank (reminded me of the green mile), and stood just behind a yellow line, as I watched the crew prepare the gear. There were two of us ready to jump – myself and a gentleman from Iran. I let him jump first. I was too scared to jump first. He did the jump really easily. I envied him. And then it was my turn. I dressed up in something resembling a metal diaper, which was strapped around my waist and thighs. I then sat down and Kenneth – one of the bungee crew members, tied some gear to my legs and then fastened the rope. Issac, the other crew member, explained what I was supposed to do – waddle to the edge of the tower, hold the top of the tower for stability, then spread my arms out like wings, ready to fly, tilt forward and then take the leap. And Isaac told me not to look down. I could see in my mind’s eye what he wanted me to do – but my heart was beating way too fast to do anything. I walked towards the plank, as I had been instructed. I looked across the hill at a house with a red roof, but the fear welled up in me and I was too afraid to jump. I backed down.
I asked my brother to jump before me, thinking I would gain courage from his jumping. Kenneth unstrapped me from the gear, and called to my brother, who sat down, and went through the same motions, the same instructions. And then I saw his heart heave. He took a moment to collect himself and then he walked towards the edge of the tower. After a few moments, he said he couldn’t take the leap. He sat back down and they unstrapped the gear from him and my heart sank. How was I going to do this? Kenneth strapped the gear on me again, and Isaac repeated the instructions. He told me I could close my eyes. I tried a second time. I said a prayer out loud, and walked to the edge of the tower. And I could not jump. I asked to sit down again. At that point, I decided to interrogate the crew – had they jumped before? Could they show me proof that they had jumped before? How sure were they that the equipment was safe? When was the equipment purchased? Was the rope really strong enough to hold me? I asked if one of them could jump along with me. They both said no. They told me not to think too long and too hard about the jump. They told me to trust them to hold me until the point at which I had to jump. They told me to close my eyes if that would make jumping easier. I heard them, but the fear kept me glued to my seat. At the same time, I kept thinking about how I could have come all this way only to walk away from this challenge. I told myself the fear was only in my head, and that I had to let it go – much easier said than done. Isaac told me to meditate on my best song. All the songs I knew flew out of my head. I couldn’t even remember if I had a best song. I decided to think about my sons, and how I would tell them that having come this far, I could not take the leap.
I decided to try again. I walked to the edge. I lifted my hands slowly to the top of the tower. Both Isaac and Kenneth stood on either side of me and told me to give them my hands. They told me to stand tall and straight. They told me to lean slightly over the edge and fall forward – I was still waiting for further instructions and before I knew it, I was in the air. My was it scary!!!!! I screamed, I shouted, I asked them to stop – even though I was already mid air. I willed the rope not to snap. I was finally lowered into a waiting boat, and I made it safely back to the shore. My legs were shaking, my heart was thumping, I could not believe that I had finally taken the plunge. It was as scary as it was exhilarating. I made it. I did it!
Walking back to the reception area, my mind was whirling! What had I just done? I thanked God for enabling me face my fear. The ability to jump in the face of fear is an act of faith. This was a lesson in faith. A lesson in letting go. A lesson in overcoming debilitating thoughts about the impossibility of a task. It was a lesson in trust – trusting those I was with, trusting that they had the experience, trusting that they would not let anything harm me. And if I could trust them, how much more God? It made me think about all the other things I fear, the things I need to let go of. I thought of the liberty one feels in letting go, of feeling fear and going ahead.
It is a heady feeling. It is life changing.
What do you fear? What leap do you need to take? I pray for you that you will take the plunge.