It’s hard to explain.
My bare feet are tugging the edges of a limestone cliff. There is water below me--but like, it’s way WAY down there. Why am I even considering this? No one’s forcing me to jump. There’s definitely no reward if I do and if I’m honest, I’m terrified.
What if I don’t jump far enough and I hit the rocks? What if I forget to plug my nose?
What if my bikini top comes off when I enter the water? Haha, oh, god.
"Speaking from the heart" really isn't visceral enough--not when it’s every fiber of my being, past and present, screaming like a siren, pulling me into the current. I just close my eyes and let her take me there.
I guess I'm addicted to that moment of temporal suspension; that exact point in time where you just stop thinking about it and go. I'm addicted to the silent awe of meeting a foreign place for the first time...it's as invigorating as falling in love. A few years back, I spent five months in Europe, immersed in countries with histories so palpable you can feel culture soaked into the very bones of the buildings. Places where history has settled in layers, like petrified soot on the walls of a chimney; a slow, centuries-old burn.
As a kid, I fawned over a conspicuous poster of Machu Picchu hung in my Grandma’s dated kitchen. It was from another world.
I pored through science journals, tripping over words I couldn’t pronounce. I memorized stories, both real and imagined, of tenacious souls who pushed back at the boundaries of the world. I studied countries, crazy places that couldn't possibly exist outside of my midwest upbringing. I teleported.
I was surrounded by small town comfort. I grew up in a place people didn’t leave. But I really really wanted to leave. I didn’t know how or why. Just get up. Just go. Dangerous treks, journalists and scientists searching to expose truth, mountaineers fighting off frostbite and hunger just to say they stood on top of it all--just for a moment--that could be me, right?
I memorized cultures both thriving and ancient, entranced by the world's languages—how else do you ask questions?
I learned Spanish from my friends (mostly cussing, if I'm honest). I studied. Against the odds, I went to college. I moved overseas. I added to my toolbox. I put myself out there. I practiced being vulnerable and alone, I practiced being afraid; I practiced and I learned, and then the world no longer scared me. Vulnerability became confidence and isolation empowerment.
I suppose if fear is the precipitate of the unknown, I am the catalyst, and all of this is to put into context what I’m about to do next. I'm growing my motivation. I'm adding to the burn. I'm feeding my fears.
I'm looking back at the past 5 years or so of my life and all the sudden I have all this experience in place of what used to just be morbid curiosity. Am I supposed to know what to do with it?
But it's good. It's all good.
I find myself on one of these cliffs again, not a real one this time, but you get the idea. I've been stumped with the choice of taking the leap, or turning safely around into the castle of "knowns" that I've built up around me. But the truth is, I’m a jumper—it’s never a choice. A choice is something you think about, something you debate before wading slowly in.
I belong in the unknown. Jumping is my reflex.
It doesn't matter if the water is warm.