Leap of Faith

July 23, 2008 at 3:12 pm (Uncategorized)

Like many that have bungee jumped, I feel there are truly no words to express the experience. However, for the sake of this blog, I’m going to try.

The whole thing started, actually, as a trade-off. I promised my friend Max that I’d jump if he came out dancing with us. Of course, I was pretty sure I’d find a way to back out at the last second as heights give my knees the shakes. However, the more I thought about it, the more I knew I’d be disappointed if I didn’t do it. This was how I justified it to myself as I signed the receipt, although I felt more like I was signing my life away.

Fast forward. We get out of the van that drove us to the bridge. The canyon is sprawling open before us, carpeted in tropical plants. A river which I’m sure is massive up close snakes down the middle of the valley, looking almost small from 300 feet up. I pull myself back, and my stomach sinks a little bit. I hate heights.

We sign waivers. The man with long wavy black hair divides us into two groups and starts suiting us up. Max is first. He insists.  He is nervous, I can tell. He gets up to the platform, looks out, and the man begins the countdown. Without even waiting for 1, Max leaps off. We ran to the edge, watching him fall like a rock. I couldn’t believe how fast he was moving, inhumanely fast, like a ragdoll. Like a corpse almost, just limp.

But then! Miraculously, the cord tightens and he recoils back. We hear a man-screech echo through the canyon. But he is fine, he is spinning and on the way back up, he is smiling. The bungee madess begins.  Five more people in our little group proceed to jump off a bridge because their friends told them to. Each one came back grinning, saying it was “unreal,” cliche, cliche, cliche. I hope to come back up with my feet still firmly attached to my ankles, and un-wetted pants.

Then, it is my turn. Hair man suits me up. I watch his handiwork intently. Very intently. I was less terrified after watching everyone else so far survive, but the second my feet touched the platform, erm, the plank, if you will, my heart was in my throat. I clutched the metal pole and looked back at Max, who was filming, in complete terror. I lowered the cord between my feet as instructed and there it was. The ground, swimming millions of miles below me. A swirling sea of trees and the river. My heart was pounding, I needed a minute but they started the countdown. 5-4-3-2-1. Shit! “Pura Vida!,” I shouted and blew a kiss, just to buy half a second more. And then I jumped. I jumped belly down, arms out, the same way I will when I get home and see my own bed.

And I fell. I fell fast. I remember thinking, in exactly this sequence: “SHIT. I didn’t not just do that. There is no way I actually just did that. Oh HOLY SH-” The cord. It snapped me back up into the air, sending the world further into a spin of blurring, zooming, green foliage. It was only then, in that split second much like swinging too high on the playground, that I noticed the heinous screeching echoing through the canyon. It was coming from me.

I bounced yet again, this time with less of a recoil, and went spinning spinning spinning. Green everywhere, I’d taken out my contacts (for fear of getting them suctioned to my eyeballs), but somehow, I could make out each tropical leaf swirling below me. I opened my arms wide and breathed deep. I surrendered. The spinning was slowing, and I heard the river rushing by. The leaves, everywhere green. And out of nowhere, as I’m hanging upside down, arms wide open, offering my pounding heart, my soul perhaps, to the universe, a song fills my ears. It is ‘Three Little Birds,’ Bob Marley, of all things.  And he’s singing “every little thing/ is gonna be alright.” And suddenly, this feeling of calm, of pura tranquila, seeps through me, as if released in that moment from my heart directly into my arteries. I breathe. The air is beautiful to me. It is the calm, the quieting of the restlessness that urged me to get on a plane to Costa Rica, on a 265 foot bridge, for that matter. Another breath. I am full of relief. It is not relief of having survived the jump. It is the relief of the calm I found in proving to myself I could do it.

I laughed my ass off as they pulled me back up. I was hanging from a giant rubber band in the middle of Central America, 2400 miles away from anything familiar, completely alone in this lush green universe.

And it didn’t bother me at all.

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1 Comment

  1. Alan said,

    You’re crazy. And a good writer.

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