Taking the Jump

It was one of those watering holes that Kiwis know so well, the ones that we are fortunate to have ample supply of in our beautiful country. You know the one, there’s a rope hanging from a tree branch that seems to bounce up and down as you lift your feet off the ground and swing back and forth, you build up the momentum and let go. You fly through the air and then position your body to make the biggest splash you can, aiming to get the highest one of the day. As every inch of your body is introduced to the cool, fresh water you experience the tingle that gets released due to the chill the water gives you.  

While the rope swing is generally suited to most of us, there’s often a ledge of rocks that is up a little bit higher. This is the place for the more adventurous amongst us, they trek up a steep incline and once at the top they wait five minutes and then tentatively tilt forward from their hips as their eyes glance over the edge to confront what jumping from this cliff could mean. Some don’t think about it and just jump while others delay, they display their internal battle for everyone to see on their faces as they take a long time to overcome their fear and eventually jump off the ledge.  

I’ll never forget this day, I was at a watering hole with my friends and they all decided that they were going to climb the ledge and face the leap that confronted them. Something inside me was holding me back, at first it was just a little bit of fear, I thought of all of the ‘what if’s’, what if I hit a rock? What if I slip as I jump? What if I go up there and pull out? As all of these fears and doubts were running through my mind, I decided to take the safe option, to sit on the side of the watering hole and do nothing. As I sat in the same position and watched everyone take the jump an overwhelming energy seemed to consume me and the longer I watched the others, the more I knew I should be doing it. I kept making excuses though, the words coming out of my mouth were justifying my choice ‘I’ve been a bit sick lately so I don’t want to get cold’, and I continued to sit, watch and regret.

You may be wondering where I’m heading with this story, I’d love to tell you that in that fearful moment I was able to see my fear, overcome it and release myself from this mental and physical ledge, but I didn’t. I sat there becoming more and more consumed by what I wasn’t doing. Later on as we drove away from the watering hole, I gazed out the window and my mind was elsewhere, I wished I had jumped. 

Do you see the times in your life where you know you should make that jump? Where you sit on the sideline desperately wanting to do the thing that will give you amazing rewards but you get entrapped by your inner thoughts and fears? What are the costs of you making this choice? What do you really miss out on? 

When we are in this moment our safety defences come up and convince us to stay in the safe place but as that moment disappears we feel disappointed in ourselves. If we have the courage to move towards what we really desire we gain an experience that enriches us as a person and can help to build our esteem.

We are at the time of the year where we think about what we want to achieve in 2014. Imagine if you made it your goal to have more courage when those challenging, fear-inducing moments present themselves. What do you think you will have gained by the end of the year if you succeed in doing this? I know that if I had chosen to take the leap on that day at the watering hole, I would have been driving home with a much better outlook on life. 


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Bevan Eyles