I told my son, Bryce, too many lifestyle quotes like, “Do something that scares you every day”- Eleanor Roosevelt, and “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space,” mountaineer Lou Whittaker. He wants Todd and I to jump out of a tree into the Little Schuylkill River in the worse way and he continually quotes those two to remind me that I am not living the life that I proclaim to live, and am hugely missing out in life by not jumping.
Todd and I are not excited about jumping. Not that I have not jumped out of things (airplanes), off of things (trestle bridges and rocks/cliffs) in the past. I’ve just been hearing stories lately- like the other day at Blue Marsh Lake, the PA Coast Guard Auxiliary told me a story about a ranger who jumped off the Church Road bridge every day after work and then one time, never came up. Same for Peace Rock outside Port Clinton. I too jumped off of that into the Schuylkill River in my twenties. Jumpers have since died there too. (Bryce says they were all drunk). But unforeseen rocks can be lurking in the murky waters. Strainers could have washed downstream and be lodged underneath.
But, I do not want to be accused of “getting old” or of NOT doing something that could make me become old-er- “Old ATTITUDE”, I might add. (I am not blind to think I am not being affected by the passing of years). But attitude is a different matter.
But Bryce, my sweet son, is beginning to border on obnoxious. “I go on all these press trips with you Mom. I play ping-pong with you when I don’t really want to. Why can’t you jump out of the tree?” And so to shut him up, Todd and I are going after work today. Stay tuned.
OK- and so we did it. We put on our bathing suits after the boys got home from painting houses. It helped that it was in the 90 degrees and sweaty. Drove down to the swimming/fishing hole and proceeded to climb up 25 feet into a tree. Bryce went first to “show us.” I followed and tried not to think. “Just do it.” I said to myself, and stepped off. It was fun. I got a load of water up my nose but truthfully, the first hill on a roller coaster is worse in the stomach.
Todd was not fazed by the climb at all as he perches on church tops balancing on ladders and thin boards with cans of paint in his hand. But he waited too long on the branch and stood staring down and got nervous. He tried to say he was backing down but we would not let him. Bryce rattled off all his life accomplishments like building his own home and crossing the Continental Divide with his kids, “THIS is nothing compared to that,” he said.
After multiple minutes of Todd saying, “I hate this shit. Why did I ever say I would do this?” he jumped off with a scream, and we both proceeded to do it again and again. Bryce and I jumped off holding hands too-the ultimate thing to do with your kid- jumping out of a tree into a river.
Now I can do it again and again and not be afraid. And the next time I want to do something scary and I am afraid, I can use this as a reference point. I guess people like Navy Seals would think we are being big babies. It is all what you are used to. But if you get used to a certain comfort zone, then your world gets shook when something scary gets thrown at you- when we are forced to “jump off” from somewhere safe into unknown waters. Maybe we need to use these times, by choice, to build up our courage.
Maybe somehow I’ve gained a few more years of life, too, by jumping off a tree into a river, 25 feet in the air. If so, I’m back there tomorrow night.