…It Too Often Is Where They Remain
It was never a dream of mine to, while sitting in the backseat of a car going 55 mph, hold hands with someone sitting in the backseat of another car…but I did it. It was not one of my brighter decisions, though I must admit it was exhilarating. It was an impulsive risk, and it’s the kind I’ve taken at times throughout my life.
Dreams are different, of course. While most dreams do require some sort of risk, you often don’t feel the risk until you are on the precipice ready to launch yourself into making the dream a reality. You can hang onto the dream and say “someday,” while knowing there is a distance between you and the realization of the dream. These “someday” dreams that have you squinting into the horizon can almost become like old friends. They are familiar and even comfortable because you can leave it to your future self to deal with the risk, but for right now…it’s just a dream.
From the time I was a kid, I wanted to skydive. And then bungee jumping came into vogue, and I added that to my list. My mom made it clear to me that before either of those dreams could become reality, she needed to have “one foot in the grave.”
It was a brilliantly manipulative mothering move because since I knew she basically needed to be dead for me to skydive, I couldn’t exactly root for the day to come. Knowing that I would not need the courage to make the jump until years down the road, I spoke of my dream comfortably and without any real contemplation of the risk.
Until that “someday” became “today.”
I was on vacation with my mother, and we were enjoying a meal with another mother and daughter we met on our trip. The restaurant was designed to look like it was in the Australian outback, and it just so happened to have a huge bungee jumping platform as part of its ambiance. Our waiter mentioned that there was a “two for one” special on bungee jumping. I laughed a bit and said, “Well, I’d love to…but my mother says I have to wait until she’s dead before I try anything like that…”
To which my mother responded, “You know, I think you should do it today. Go ahead.”
Suddenly my far off “someday” was staring me right in the face. “Are you serious, Mom?!”
“Yes. I think you should just go ahead and do it. I’ll watch.” The other mother and daughter thought that was a magnificent idea.
Me? I wasn’t so sure.
My comfortable far off dream was now my immediate risk. With my mom, our friends, and the waiter anticipating my answer, I took a breath and said, “Uh…okay.”
I left the women sipping their drinks and chattering about my impending doom and headed to the bungee jumping station. Though it happened many years ago, I vividly remember it. The instructor put me in all the harnesses and then checked them all aloud so that another instructor could verify that all the harnesses were indeed correctly latched.
Maybe that should have put me at ease, but instead it further made me realize just how serious the choice I was making was about to get.
I remember having to climb up the steps of the tower to get to the top—no easy feat itself—and all the while I was mumbling to myself “You and your big mouth. You just had to say you wanted to bungee jump, and now look at you…” as well as other, far more colorful words.
I made it to the top where two more instructors awaited me. The one introduced the other as “your Jump Master, Dave,” and my nerves felt like making a joke, so I did a pathetic imitation of a rapper and said, “Yo, Jumpmaster Dave!” to which neither of the instructors found it the least bit funny.
Okay. This is the real deal. Time to shut up and jump, Lisa.
And I did.
I could either fall forward or backward, and I chose backward. Hanging onto the tubular cushion that was there to keep me aligned properly, I said my goodbyes to Jump Master Dave…and let myself fall back…and back……
And it was one of the most frightening moments of my life—but also one of the most thrilling. And once the bungee caught me, it was sheer joy.
I did it!
Since it was the two-for-one deal that started all this, I had another jump to go. This time I flew up the stairs. The adrenaline propelled me as though I had a jetpack on. I think the rush came not only from the jump, but from the realization that I had done it.
My “someday” dream came down off the comfortable shelf it had been resting on for years and I could now own it as reality. What a wonderful feeling that was.
For my second jump I chose to fall forward, and it was daunting in a different way. The first jump was scary because I couldn’t see, and the second jump was scary because I could. Likewise, the thrills were different, too, but both were invigorating experiences.
It felt so good to fulfill a dream. It felt so good to face my fears.
I have other “someday” dreams that I need to pull off the shelf and make “today” realities. Ones that are well beyond thrill-seeking. Ones that shape a life. I wonder if I can find any “two for one” deals that will propel me into the action needed to put my harnesses on and climb the tower to meet Jump Master Dave?
No…these are all up to me. Up to me to push myself closer to feeling the risk and still making the jump even if my knees are knocking.
And then one day (not someday) far down the road, my “someday” shelf will be mostly empty, reflecting a life truly lived and not just longed for.
…Let’s go bungee jumping!