Last summer I jumped off a perfectly good, non-burning 22’ high bridge into the 42 degree water of the White Salmon River near the Washington/Oregon border for no other reason than I wanted to. Our rafting guide pulled off to the side of the river and asked if we wanted to get out and jump.
My 13-year-old daughter was with me and I looked at her and saw her smile and I knew she wasn’t thinking about her answer. Her answer was yes. My answer was yes.
At the top of the bridge, my daughter didn’t even bat an eye or give it a second thought.
How free she was in that moment, how devoid of fear.
She has that kind of spirit. I can’t remember if I was ever like that but I admire the hell out of her for it. She just looked at me and smiled and said, “I guess this answers the question of if everyone was jumping off I bridge would I do it, too!” Then she laughed and jumped. She just jumped.
Jumping off that bridge was frightening, like the first time you do anything and you have no notion of what it will be like or how it will feel but you can’t stand another minute not knowing. So I jumped. That fall seemed to take forever and that water hit me hard. It was cold and it tasted so pure.
And I felt awake and alive and I knew I’d do it again given any chance and I knew, in that moment, that I had a lot more bridges off which I needed to jump.
I had to stop thinking about doing things in life and actually do them. I’m not trying to escape anything, I’m not trying to find anything, I’m not trying to heal anything. I just want to live. I want to feel like I did in that river.
There are just some things that you feel compelled to do whether you can really explain them or not. But here’s the thing: I don’t have to explain them. Not to anyone but me. This is called living your life on your own accord.
Last Fall, I made the painful decision to end my marriage. While the decision felt right, there were times I struggled to find the words to explain the decision. My ex-husband is not a bad person. He didn’t abuse me. He wasn’t mean. He didn’t cheat on me with another woman. He didn’t lie or steal. Things just weren’t right and I knew it. And I knew if I stayed, I would spend the rest of my life feeling like I was trying to fix a round peg in a square hole and it overwhelmed me and consumed me. I also knew I was going to be alone and life would be changed.
Alone can be terrifying. There is a lot of life I want to live and I always imagined I would have someone to live it with and now I was faced with the fact that I had made a conscious choice to not have that.
It lead me to realizing that I if I wanted to live, I either had to wait until I found someone else to get back to living with or go it alone.
In April, headed to beautiful Savannah, Georgia to wander the squares, sit in the sun, drink Chatham Artillery Punch, eat amazing food and listen to some of my favorite musicians play all weekend long because I wanted to go and I had one chance to say yes to this. I went by myself because I didn’t want to use being alone as an excuse to not go. That fear of going alone had no place in my life.
I’m coming to terms with the fact that alone was a hard choice I made. One that warranted so much painful deliberation and was the most gut wrenching. How do you look someone in the eye and tell them you just don’t want to be with them for the rest of your life, even though you promised you would and you tried and just can’t do it anymore? That over them, you are choosing that big, fat alone? That hard, ugly alone that keeps you from doing things and keeps you stopped in your tracks.
Alone has not been easy and some days it hits me when I read something and turn to share it with someone and there is no one there. Alone is too many leftovers you can’t even possibly eat. Alone is three extra feet in your bed.
But alone is not an excuse. It’s a reason to do something. I’m not looking to find an excuse to do anything anymore. Some things need no more justification than you want to do it. Not everything, but a good number. Those things you don’t think about. You just do it.
I’m not passing up the chance to jump off the bridge. I’m just jumping.