That’s me at sixteen.
I was on a camping/float trip in the hills of Missouri. It was only a couple of days, but it was a trip to remember. I paddled a canoe, found $20 snagged on a rock deep in the river, laughed, sang and jumped off a cliff into the cool, cool water.
What happened to that girl?
I haven’t jumped off a cliff since, well, since that float trip. And there have been opportunities, though mostly figurative. How many times have I let some experience pass me by because my fear overtook my excitement? What might my life be if I’d held on to the drive of that sixteen-year-old?
Don’t assume she wasn’t afraid; she was terrified. But she jumped anyway. Again and again. Somehow, she understood how important jumping off cliffs can be. Disagree? Remember “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”? Jumping off a cliff allowed them to live to see another day.
And that can be true in our real lives, too. Sometimes we need to jump off a proverbial cliff. If life is kind, when we don’t take our chances and jump, we’re often shoved. It isn’t always easy to see in the moment, but the gift of hindsight usually reveals it was all for the best. I’ve lived this more times than I can count, and believe me – I could have saved myself a lot of time and anguish if I’d just gone ahead and flippin’ jumped.
We often speak of what we’d say to our younger selves, if given the chance to go back in time. For me, when I look at that sixteen-year-old Mikki, I can’t imagine having any wisdom to impart. I think that if I were able to visit that girl, I’d do best just to listen. If I were lucky, she’d spend some time with me. And If I were really lucky, maybe she’d tell me about jumping off cliffs. Heaven knows, I could sorely use a refresher.