Leap of Faith
The view was ironically stunning as I stood in numb terror on the very edge. I was poised 150ft above the sea with the waves moving below me, the sun had earlier been warming my face, but now it had moved around and was gently pushing at my shoulders and neck. Across the water and along the coastline, I could see the relentless movement of the waves, evident even from so far away.
What had brought me here? It wasn’t the desire to end my life, but more that life had become monotonous, and I simply did not have the energy any more.
I had felt trapped in normality of living. Each day was the same, and although I hated my job it was what I knew, it was the path I had chosen. The people I worked with moaned about their jobs and each day the same problems were discussed over and over again. Nothing changed. Truth was I was just too scared that another job would be as bad – if not worse. Better the devil you know.
Men had come and gone, but nothing had stuck. There was always something that did not feel right. There was always an initial passion and romance but then it seemed to settle into a rhythmic domesticity which led nowhere. Maybe I just did not have the energy it took to keep the relationships together; or maybe I chose the wrong partners and looked for the easy options rather than something amazing. I simply could not commit to a relationship because I was scared it would end. So, inevitably, they did end, becoming self-fulfilling prophecies fuelled by the fear of having my heart broken.
The hobbies I had had in my youth, horse riding and skiing, seemed to have become more dangerous and I had even stopped dancing because it became too complicated to organise the time. What a waste! Now it had all gone and in my 30’s I felt that I was too old.
I worked, I saw the friends I knew – the people who I had most in common and who would not challenge me - I ate my usual food, in the regular places, drove the most direct route to and from work, and came home to the same television programmes, day in, and day out. Only here, on holiday in Cyprus, had I started to really feel alive again, but tomorrow the holiday would be over. Back home again. Back to boring ‘me’ surrounded by a safe and boring life – the same work, the same people, the same routine. At the time I didn’t even realise how dead I had become, I just knew I was not really living.
So there I stood, I had come here through a litany of inaction, to stand on this brink, and I did not want to go back.
I felt the tug of vertigo, the feeling of wanting to jump but at the same time my survival orientated, conscious brain screaming out the danger I was in. I was terrified, and felt frozen in time. I noticed all the minute details around me: from the sunlight glinting across the distant water and the tiny white cloud which alone sat unmoving in the sky; to the crowd below me, all gazing in my direction - I could see the expressions on their faces even from this distance. It was only a few seconds but it stretched out a lifetime.
I shifted closer to the edge so that my toes were protruding over the vast space below me. A stone dislodged under my foot and fell over the edge. In a moment of intensified horror I instinctively looked down – something I had firmly committed to avoid. It fell in slow motion directly down into the sea. Like standing on a set of bathroom scales I was standing erect and looking down past my toes, but instead of the unkind weight-measuring dial, there was nothing below at all. My eyes rapidly refocused as I was suddenly looking directly past my toes into the depths. My despair suddenly eradicated by the reality of the danger and a rush of adrenalin.
The waves below were swelling and crashing on the rocks, relentlessly persistent, each one like an original animated work of art by a deranged artist. The water was crystal clear, enormous round boulders were visible far below the surface, looking like the casually discarded marbles of some ancient god’s game. The ground heaved in and out of focus like the very earth itself was breathing – and I knew that this feeling was life, THIS was living.
Then, behind me, a man spoke and what he told me changed my life forever. I did not turn to look at him, but his warm voice brought me back to the present. He told me that I had a choice. I could let go and move forward, I could jump, which would set me free from fear and living in a box. Or I could step back and continue to be afraid, face the consequences of inaction.
He gave me 5 seconds to decide, counting down. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1.
My mind which had been so busy went blank whilst he completed his countdown; but with the sound of his voice still vibrating in the air, I made my decision to move.
I tipped over the edge, enough for gravity to take me, and then dived out and into the air – deciding that if I was going to do it I was going looking good. It was beautiful, surreal, and the water looked so clear, so clean. For a moment, just one moment, I was suspended in the air, back arched and arms out. I felt free and proud and strong.