So, it would have been easier if I just said no.
The water was clear and we knew incredibly deep, but the ledge in question was over 10 metres high. Over our week of visiting this fresh water oasis, hidden within the sounds of the salty sea, we had seen others jump. Mostly 15 year old lads. Buoyed by Hahn Ice and go-pros, we’d oohed and ahhed as they slapped their bare skin against the unforgiving waters’ surface. Coming up from the green bubbles – all red from adrenalin, testosterone and belly wacking marks – they were a great source of entertainment for my small crew.
Until they too asked if they could do it.
Jump from the 10 metre high platform that is.
I’d watched her agile rock climbing skills as well as her strong jumping technique. She has always been my wise one, far smarter in her eyes than her years. It was the last days of the holiday. Only our crew at our green oasis. She;d jumped from 1 metre, then 2, then 5. And I had encouraged her to start taking responsibilities for her own decisions – allowing for her to emerge from a child who has been told to a child who feels strong enough to tell – so I said to her,
“If you think you can.”
Before you could say “be careful”, she was screaming in frightened delight as she sailed down the 10 metre free fall. Pin dropping perfectly into the green waters beneath. We all clapped and cheered as she swam to the ledge to rock climb it back up. To do the same thing again. When my middle red said, “Can I do it too?”
I looked down into my middle reds eyes. Full of hope and courage and fear. She’s the only one with eyes of brown, she’s the only one who surfs goofy and she’s been to the emergency department more times than any of us. I tried to reason with her that the rock-climb was kinda hard. And very, very high. But she refused to see my logical reason. Which was followed by refusing to talk to any of us at all.
For a considerable period of time.
To try to make her see the reasoning of our decision, my lover said he’d walk with her. They could take the track up behind the cliff. He would show her how high she would have to jump. And scare the question out of her. This would allow my reasoned answer to enter the space left behind. We could give her the choice. Of course she would say no.
It took 10 minutes for them to climb.
My middle red looked so small when she came out of the tree line. And so very, very high. She walked to the ledge, put her safe toes over it, and looked down. She stood there, her knees knocked inwards and her heart sank. Ss her head dropped deeper into her sunken shoulders – she stood. And stood. And stood.
Between cuddles with her dad and the edge of the ledge, I watched my middle one wrestle with herself. The cuddles saw her soul sobbing through her body, we could hear them from the bottom of the pool. Too frightened to do what she wanted to do – but too afraid not to try. I willed to my lover to give her an out. To say no. To hold her sobbing soul in his hands and walk her back down the track. To bring her back safe to my arms now aching to hold her.
Seeing your small one so torn breaks open a sacred space in a mother’s heart.
But he told her to put her courage back in her body. To stand strong and get angry. To re-ignite the fire in her belly that the fear in her head was pushing out. Backwards and forwards. Forwards and backwards. Between my lover and the ledge. The ledge and my lover.
A lone 15 year old in boardies with a tank-top sunburn made the climb.
“It’s really high up here!”
An audience started to gather around the bottom of the pool. Soon whispers were going on around me. About the “scared little girl” on the ledge. Half an hour of sobbing and self talk done, she came out one more time. While her knees were still knocked and her head dropped into her shoulders, there was a small lift in her heart. She put her safe toes on, like she had so many times before, but this time –
Think forearm balances, inversions and bastrika.
We have the whole of our body in our mind. Meaning that we can have the whole of our mind in our body. When our mind is telling our body that it’s scared and frightened – our body will show these emotions in it’s postures and expressions. But if our body tells our mind that it’s strong and powerful, our mind will believe it to be so. Meaning that despite being petrified beyond belief by what you want to do, you can do it.
Our brain structure is changed by training and experience. By allowing ourselves to feel the extremes of our emotions, we learn to accept them for all that they are. We become more comfortable with the uncomfortable. We develop more resilience in the adversity. We remember that within each of us is an incredible warrior. Who is courageous and gentle and strong.
My middle red jumped twice that day. Both times she was petrified. Both times she held her dad. But both times she choose to jump.
She was asked how she felt after she faced her ferocious fears. She said her hand had been open. That she slapped it hard against the water.
And that it hurt.