I’m doing what that song says and scaring myself everyday.

There’s a song I recently refound that has a line in it that just cuts to the core of me. The song (which is also a speech) is called “Everybody’s free to wear Sunscreen” Sounds especially deep doesn’t it? I didn’t think so ’til I heard it read aloud at one of my dorky writing club meets.  The whole thing put chills up and down my body but the one line that I still think about is probably the shortest sentence in the whole song. “Do one thing everyday that scares you.” My heart pounds reading it right now. I looked further into it and it’s actually an Eleanor Roosevelt quote. Smart woman. There are times that people think I’m insane for what I’m willing to do to live up to this quote–and maybe I am. But at the risk of humiliating or injuring myself….. I choose to live as much and as deeply as I possibly can. Sometimes it’s a little risky, I suppose. But I get to feel the free-fall, the rush, the exhilaration and the pride that comes along with knowing that I’m living life to it’s absolute fullest.  That makes it all worth it to me.  Ready for yesterday’s adventures, kiddos?

I asked Miss Emily (above) over text a couple of days ago about my newest adventure idea. Okay, maybe I told her. Something like “Let’s go cliff jumping!” To which she responded something along the lines of “Hell yeah!” This girl is as much as a dare-devil as I am and I knew she’d be all for it.  A couple hours before our plans to jump off of cliffs would begin, I get a call from my friend Bryan. He keeps making plans with me that keep falling through (he’s one of the ones who call me “The Flake.”,dunno why.) and I decided it would be perfect if he came along too. So then there were three.

The adventure begins. On the drive there, I could already feel the butterflies in my stomach. I tried to calm them with some fried chicken, but to no avail. The butterflies were staying. I know I technically didn’t have to do it, but that’s not how my brain works. If I commit to making myself do something scary, I’m going to do it. There is no turning back. We get there and watch a few people jump and decide we’re ready for the easy jumps. Turns out once you get up there, the “easy” jumps don’t look so easy anymore. Watching it is nothing like being up there. I watched everyone else doing this and thought “No problem.” but once you’re up looking down? Gulp. I am, of course, the guinea pig. “Christina…okay..likeomigod….you’re going first.” was the unanimous decision. Emily just got back from skydiving (jealous) and found this more frightening because, as she puts it, you’re trusting someone else to keep you safe when you skydive. Cliff-jumping? That’s all you. It’s also a little frightening because there were once diving boards to jump from but they’ve been removed and all that is left are little metal stubs and a sign that says “Hey,No Jumping,It’s dangerous, and We’ll fine yo ass for it.” (or something like that.) Uh. What exactly had to go down for diving boards to be taken down and a big sign put up in it’s place?  But there was no arguing this, as it was my idea. I had to go first. I got some random teenage boy to jump first to show me it was okay, if you must know. Then, it was my turn. My strategy on these types of things is…Do not think about it too long. If you think, you get scared shitless. If you get scared shitless, you back out. Just jump. So I close my eyes and do it. Jump. My stomach drops a little and then I feel the water. Alright. That wasn’t so bad. My friends follow. We tried this one more time and decided to go for the big jump. Double Gulp.

Right before jumping again I happened to check my phone. Telling the world what I was doing on facebook was probably not a good idea. People are freaking out. Telling me I’m crazy and stupid and their cousin just tore up their arm cliff-jumping. Jeeze.  I was surprised. It’s daring,yeah, but it’s not like I’m putting a gun to my head or jumping off the Grand Canyon, people. As Em said, “It’s not that big of a deal.” I think the climbing,not the jumping, is probably the most dangerous part. There’s a lot of cracks and edges and slippery places; It wouldn’t really be hard to trip and fall at all. We managed to get there safe and sound,all three of us. And again I hear something along the lines of  “Christina..okay…like ohmigod..you’re going first.” There was no little teenage boy willing to jump for me this time so I was all on my own here. And I’ll admit to it. I was terrified looking down. We were up pretty damn high. I wanted my daddy. But in my ear I hear two voices from my lovely friends who refuse to jump first  “Just go Christina, Go. You can do it! C’mon, girl, go. Jump!” My head is telling me the same thing.  Also, my head is telling me, these two are going to feel so bad if I die. That comforts me a little. I jump.  It feels like I fall forever. My stomach is outside of my body. My breathe is caught. I’m still falling. I hope I don’t hit a rock and die. I’m going to get so much water up my nose. It’s amazing that I can think all of this in three seconds. And..splash. It’s a really hard hit (Emily tried to flap away and fly multiple times so she ended up with bruises all over her poor little hands) But it feels good. It feels like water and life and having big balls. There is tons of water in my nose but I didn’t hit a rock. Good. I scream for my friends to come in, and they do. Let’s go again!  And we do.  A couple more times. I couldn’t possibly imagine life without thrills like this. I don’t imagine I would feel like I was really living.  Feeling like you don’t have lungs or a stomach for just a few seconds—Makes you realize what you do have once everything is back to normal. Makes you feel so small in comparison to the cliffs, the water–nature. Makes you feel on top of the world. Makes you a little more alive,because hey, you’re not dead. The three of us left sore,bruised, scratched and worn out—but also happy,brave, and accomplished. I can’t wait to go again. Below is the video of me falling/flapping.

“Do one thing everyday that scares you.”As much as I agree with this quote and live by it, I couldn’t imagine having the time or energy to do something  like cliff-jumping everyday. It took me a while to realize that that’s probably not what Eleanor meant when she said it. By simply living, most of us are doing something once everyday that scares us. Unless you’re hiding under a rock, there are things that each of us come across in our day-to-day life that scares us. Five years ago I refused to talk on the phone at work. I was too shy to make new friends. Falling in love terrified me, because even at 16 I knew how scary loving someone could be. The only way I got over this was realizing, I have to do this. I have to live. I have to force myself into the world. I scared myself everyday until I was able to not only function, but to also be a sociable, friendly,likable person. And you know…It’s still scary. I don’t realize it until I sit down and think about it, but I am scaring myself every single day. I still don’t like awkward phone conversations, but it doesn’t phase me because I’m so used to it. Complimenting random strangers and trying to strike up a conversation? It’s always a risk, there’s always that small chance I might get shunned…and that is scary too. Marriage is scary. Loving someone with no guarantee that we’ll still love eachother 50 or even 5 years from now is scary. Going to a new school is scary. Letting people go and Letting new people in–Scary. Having dreams that may not come true and believing in people that might not always come through is scary. Opening up and speaking my mind, Trying to fit into a tight parking place,Writing a blog and risking spelling ‘too’ or ‘there’ the wrong way and therefore risking a slight panic attack as well, Waking up to look in the mirror to maybe find a new zit on my face, Signing up to mentor a younger kid with no clue what I’m doing; All of it scares me, at least a little. I just don’t even realize, I’m so used to doing all of it; It’s so much a part of my life. Maybe that’s the true definition of fear-conquering. In some small way we all too often overlook, If we are living and doing the best we can, we are scaring ourselves everyday.  For humors sake, I asked a random kid yesterday as we were climbing, “Is this safe?” He replied with “No. It’s never safe. There’s always a chance you’re going to trip or fall the wrong way into the water and die.” Not very reassuring, but very true. The same goes for life. There’s always a chance of tripping or falling,emotionally or physically. Always that chance of never getting up again. It’s a chance we take anyway. Sometimes I just have to do something like cliff-jumping to remind myself of all of this. I also like being told I have big kahunas.

Do the happening.

It’s weird how life works out. I know they tell us hey, expect anything, live for today, right now is all you have….but how many of us really listen to that? It’s a cliché. It’s something we hear without hearing, say without feeling, and live without listening to.

And then it will randomly hit you, randomly and rather hard it’ll hit you. That—wow. That’s true. What they say about life being really short, about never knowing what will happen…that’s for real. For me, it was about five minutes ago as I did my regular stalking via facebook. I was clicking through pictures and found out a seventeen year old girl that used to flirt with my brother has a beautiful baby now. Maybe that’s not quite death but at seventeen, it’s got to be hell sometimes.  For me, living for the day isn’t just saying live in case you might die. It’s an anything can happen kind of deal. More than just death happens. Life happens. Babies happen.  Break-ups happen. Broken hearts happen. Mistakes happen. Life changing moments happen. Betrayal happens. Shit happens. There’s happy times and low times and in between ‘I’m doin’ alright’ times. No matter what the circumstance, there should be a realization that life, whether death be involved or not, is going to change. It’s going to change a lot, and we have nothing to do but to deal with it. I struggle with taking things for granted. I don’t go see my parents enough. I’m mean to my husband. I act on my temper before I think things through. I have the mentality that life works or my terms, and what I have is forever. But it’s not.

Boy in the green. I still can’t look at pictures of this boy without tearing up.  How life can change so much in less than two years, How someone can go from always being there to not being there at all,ever ever again–still baffles my naive heart.The picture was my nineteenth birthday and I was going through what I thought was the hardest time of my life. (It wasn’t.) My brother and this kid convinced me to buy them both cigarettes after eating and we all smoked (thinking we were oh so cool) in a closed pizza’s parking lot. It was a small moment out of millions, but one that cheered me up and I still think back on and smile.  How can this picture be amongst my hundred of others like it’s just any other normal picture? How can the recollection be so nonchalant, like I should be able to just call this kid up and laugh about it right this moment? It seems if he’s gone, these casual pictures and memories would also disappear. But it doesn’t work that way. Memories remain and what is a for sure thing continues feeling so indefinite, like a practical joke or a lie. It’s a subject I rarely talk about because it’s really hard to go there. Because sometimes when life changes, sometimes that change does mean death. It still doesn’t seem real, it seems like he should be outside playing football or doing other best friend things with my brother right now.  Or talking with his parents, or flirting with a girl, or about to graduate high school in three months. But it doesn’t work that way.

Falling asleep at the wheel happens. Car accidents happen. Tears and sadness and letting go happens. I guess what I’m getting at is we don’t control what happens. It just happens, and all we can do is be prepared for that. Prepared,not in the sense of waiting for it to happen, but living so that if it did–You don’t regret a single thing. Tell life. Grab it by the balls. Say, listen here life, this is what’s going to happen.  I’m going to go see my mommy and daddy more. I’m going to hold my baby sister every chance I get . I’m going to be the best friend I can be, I’m going to hug the crap out of everyone. I’m going to write a book, travel the world, let go of my anger and make millions of friends, smile and laugh until my mouth freakin’ hurts. I’m going to use protection when I’m doing it until I don’t want to anymore and then you know what ? I’m going to have a cute little kid. Maybe two. Maybe five.  I’m going to make everyday an adventure, every breath a lasting one, every person around me as happy as I strive to be.  I will go on walks for the heck of  it, listen to my husbands heart beat just to remind myself it won’t beat forever, I will go random places and take too many pictures and eat way too much.  I am not going to wait, I am going to live as much as I can right now. And, you know what else, life? We’re going to miss him every single day for a really long time. Maybe forever. When that song comes on, that picture shows up, that beautiful smile pops into our heads, When we really want to invite him to lunch but can’t because you took him away from us—we’re going to really miss him and it’s going to hurt really bad. But that’s okay. Because that boy told you what was up, he lived you hard and with a passion. Life happened and death happened but no matter what happened, That boy lived and he lived without hesitation. He is and will always be my constant reminder to live, to not wait, to hold onto everybody you have for as long as you possibly can, to remember every single breath is something you can never get back,  and to always, always Do the happening.