I've stood on the top of a cliff looking down many times, and looking back I've noticed how it's gotten easier. But I remember that first time:I'm looking down with a group of people who have held my life in their hands before, the water looks so far away, their upturned faces too small, the cliff slightly wet from previous jumpers, and the image of me slipping and banging my head in some comical fall that belonged in a cartoon vividly repeating in my mind. I remembered the way I could feel not only every pounding beat of my heart but also every nerve going down my arms and through my back. But I couldn't back down. No. I didn't want to jump, but I didn't want to be a failure, a chicken, a sorry loser for myself. It really didn't matter what they thought way down in the water; it mattered that I wouldn't feel as though I backed out and took the easier path.
So I would jump.
And oh that water would feel so refreshing as soon as I landed and my heart would stop pounding and I wouldn't be able to chase away my smile looking up at the cliff I lept from. And I always thought after I jumped that the water felt so soft the way it moved apart to perfectly conform to the shape of my body. It was the feeling of success.