When my husband and I were engaged and discussing our honeymoon, we could not agree on a location; he wanted to go to Alaska and I wanted to go to Hawaii. Because we could not get our heads around the other’s choice and because we didn’t want our honeymoon to end up being our first separate vacation, we did the logical thing: we agreed not to take an official honeymoon, always planning to go another time. So, last year I cashed in my “another time” chip, using our 15th wedding anniversary as an excuse. I researched beach vacations. (Of course, I knew I would finally get my way because we’d already been to Alaska.)
So, last April after some very tricky juggling and negotiating who would watch our children for 6 days, we jetted off to Riviera Maya, Mexico. Being a person who is virtually incapable of relaxation via actually sitting still, I boarded the plane with a mental list of things I wanted to accomplish while we were there. One of the things high on my list was a visit to Xel-Ha. I had never been snorkeling and wanted to give it a try. I also had seen footage on You Tube of folks jumping off the “Cliff of Courage” and I knew I needed to do that. Jumping off a cliff into water….high on my list of lifetime to-do’s.
After an hour drive from our resort, we arrived safely at Xel-Ha ready for adventure. (Note to self: driving in Mexico is also an adventure as you thread the needle through impossibly narrow construction zones, dodge stray dogs, and enjoy speeding alongside others who understand no traditional “rules of the road.”) We snorkeled first. I’m not much of a swimmer, so it was a lot of work for me. Still, with the calm, warm water, it was a fun experience. After snorkeling, we did some of the other resort activities. We lounged in hammocks, rode bikes around the preserve, and floated in inner tubes on a natural, lazy river.
When it came time for the jump, I was dead set on doing it. Nothing would change my mind. I approached the cliff with greater courage than anticipated. Then a horrible thing happened; I was delayed by someone ahead of me who was trying to decide if they should jump. The longer I stood there waiting, the more fearful I became too. When it was my turn, I hesitated. Then my husband, who had not truly committed to the jump in our discussions, went ahead and jumped. He forced my hand. I had to jump. No way was I coming back from Mexico having failed at this. I am not a coward or a quitter (or so I tell myself daily).
However, I was shaking. The thing is…I am reasonably afraid of heights. I know it’s ridiculous because I live in the highest state in the nation and I ride ski lifts. But, I don’t intentionally jump off ski lifts like I was going to jump intentionally off this safe rock ledge into water fifteen feet below me. I took a deep breath, backed up a few feet, and started to run because I knew if I walked to the edge I’d have time to change my mind.
That fifteen foot fall took FOREVER. It was the longest couple seconds of my life. But, when I hit the water, all the emotion and stress of the jump released. I found myself at the surface with tears in my eyes, triumphant. I had done it, though I am reasonably certain I will never do it again.
But, that cliff jump did exactly what it was supposed to: it reminded me what I am capable of. Even sitting here writing this, I get the same rush of emotion when I recall that jump. It’s like I’ve just surfaced with a new lease on life. You know that thing you’ve been afraid to do? Go ahead and do it. The first step is terrifying, but the afterglow will last a lifetime.