Several months ago, I'd written a blog post here about my middle son taking a tremendous leap of faith. We were on vacation in Curacao, the third of the ABC Islands in the Caribbean, when Ryan found himself in a terrible quandary. Curacao is known for its incredible clip jumping. The aquamarine waters plunge into a deep dark blue not far off shore, attracting scuba divers and cliff jumpers from around the world. My husband and I had taken Michael, Jack, Ryan, Chris and Bobby to one of the locals' favorite (and presumably safest) spots to jump, and as each boy walked to the edge of this particular cliff and hurled himself into a 40-foot free fall into the splashing waters below, Ryan turned ghost white and looked like he was going to pass out. Even from the shore where I was filming their stunts, I could see Ryan's knobby knees shaking. My heart nearly broke.
Ryan tried to jump a good half dozen times but finally gave up, sulking down from the rocky cliff like someone had stolen his favorite teddy bear. He sat in a heap in a warm pile of sand and buried his face in his hands, sobbing. He was the only one who didn't jump. His four brothers knew to give him some space. Joe kept them busy, splashing in the water, so I could linger close to my fifth grader.
"You know, honey," I said, "there's no shame in being afraid. I AM AFRAID!" I said. "But I'll tell you this. If we leave this beautiful place and you decide that you just can't make that jump, you'll regret it for the rest of your life." I got in the water to give Ryan time to himself.
About 10 minutes later, he got up without a word and walked like a soldier up that rocky hillside to the cliff his brothers had leapt from. He walked to the edge, looked up at the sky and said something I couldn't hear. And then, just like that, my lanky 11 year old threw his body off the edge and dropped down to the waters below.
Everyone at that beach seemed to know what was happening. The people in the water stopped what they were doing. Diners at the cafe on top of that cliff were captivated. And Ryan's brothers watched in complete amazement. His body hardly made a splash as his feet hit the water and then, about three seconds later, his head emerged in a froth of white. I could see it from a good 75 yards away. A smile like I'd never seen before.
We all face our own cliffs. Life is full of them. Sometimes the unknown possibilities are just too much and, like Ryan did at first, we decide on the safety of what we know. We walk back down from the ledge and accept the safety of the shore. Other times, when we decide that what we're doing and the path we're traveling isn't going anywhere quickly, we find ourselves at a crossroads. Do we take that detour? Do we try that road we've never been on before? Do we jump off that cliff? Or do we stick with the same old familiar path we always travel? The one that's safe... and predictable. I crossed that bridge this past weekend and tried something new. The Mind, Body, Spirit, Healing Expo at a convention center here in town. I hosted a booth to spread my message of encouragement. Of positivity. Of light. And it was awesome. Like Ryan, I Jumped. And I met so many of you because of it.
You're at your own crossroads right now. No one can make the decision but you. Feel the wind in your face, the rocks under your feet and have some faith. You've got this. And you know what? The next time you jump, the joy of the free fall will be 100 times greater because your feet have splashed safely into the water before.
Jump. Just jump.