So hands up if you thought that was the end of my adventures on the bridge? Haha! That’s what I thought too.
When I got back to the middle (having been told by the Zim border man that he could hear my scream all the way over there!) lo and behold, there was fellow EEP, all strapped up and about to do his Swing! The Swing he probably wasn’t going to do. The Swing we were probably (eventually) going to discuss in a “I’ll do it if you do it” sort of a way and then both decide that we didn’t need to do at all.
And my goodness did he look ill…
So I let him know I was there, and that he didn’t have to do it if he didn’t want, but it was cool and exciting and he’d be just fine if he did – just don’t forget to look up! And remember your anchor point is lower than you are to begin with so you free fall for a bit, but then it’s gravy*.
After a couple of false starts, a bit of soul-searching and a quick prayer… he did it!
And his post jump face was a picture! (Which will be here as soon as I have it, but technical issues continue.)
I was seriously impressed and really glad for him, but now the pressure was on for me to do the bunji wasn’t it?! That bunji I was never going to do no-way-no-how-nu-uh!
Very long story short, spool forward several hours and I sit, harnessed up, on the gantry over the edge of the bridge, with the guy with the video camera asking me how I’m doing?
“I don’t know,” I reply. “I’m not sure I can do this.”
Now, the guy who actually sees everyone off the platform has a tough job. He has to read every person who steps up in front of him – to figure out what they’re really saying – not the words that are coming out of their mouths, but the message coming out from their heads and their hearts – and then figure out which one is stronger and which one that individual wants to listen to really.
Having watched him for several hours, I’ve seen him persuade, cajole and challenge people off the edge. I’ve seen him send them back onto the bridge without jumping, and push them off when they thought they couldn’t jump. I’ve watched those same people thank him afterwards for pushing them – because they never would have jumped and they’re glad they did.
He has a tough job. And even though I’ve watched him for hours, I don’t know how good he’ll be at reading me. Because I genuinely don’t know how I’m doing. But one thing I do know. If I’m going to jump – and it’s a whopping big if – I will jump. I will not be pushed. I will take that leap or I won’t but the whole thing will be entirely my decision.
“What are you telling me?” He asks.
“I don’t know if I can jump. I don’t know why I’m doing it. I’ve never wanted to, I see no reason to. I don’t know why I’m doing it.”
“We do it to overcome fear,” he tells me.
At this point I’m thinking I have no problem being fearful of throwing myself off a bridge 111 metres in the air – even if it is ‘Big African Air.’ It seems like a fairly normal, indeed rather sensible reaction and I’m perfectly ok with being scared.
I stand up to take a look. I’m not sure I can do it. I can hear my friends (yes, I’ve been up here long enough that we now have new friends!) behind me cheering me on. I know it’s peer pressure that’s got me to this point, and I don’t like it. It seems ridiculous. WHY am I even considering this jump?
“Don’t push me,” I tell the man.
“I’m not pushing, I’m helping,” he says.
“No, I mean it – don’t push me.”
“It’s ok,” he says, “I won’t.”
But still I have the fear… I can feel his hand on the straps between my shoulder blades… And with my toes curling over the edge of the platform every fiber of my being is telling me to hop backwards to safety, still I stand there – wondering what I’m doing.
He lifts up my left arm to help steady me. Then his friend tries to lift my right and I can’t let go of the barrier. They’re still cheering behind me, not egging me on now so much as letting me know that whatever I decide they’re there for me.
And I realise I’ve never been this scared in my life. I’ve even started crying. “This is ridiculous!” I think to myself! “Why are you putting yourself through this? You don’t have to jump, so don’t jump.”
And that’s when it hits me. I’m not scared of the jump. I know it’s completely safe. I’m scared of being pushed off, of not being ready, of it not being my decision. I realise that what I need to do is trust the man holding onto my straps. The total stranger I’ve watched pushing people off. I have to trust that he’ll keep his word, he’ll let my jump be just that – my jump. Those trust games at school never came close.
And in that instant, I know I can jump. I nod my head. “Don’t push me,” I say for the umpteenth time, “I’ll do it, just don’t push me.”
“I won’t,” says the voice in my ear. I feel his hand lightly on my back.
I look at the horizon. Lift my arms. Take a deep breath. Decide that I’m crazy. And jump.
It’s not like they said it would be. There’s no great view, it’s theriverthenthebankthentheskythentheriverthentheskythenthesunthentheriver…
Half way through I realise I’m pointing my feet^ and quickly flex them for fear I’ll slip out of the padding. I feel faintly sick and then it passes. I can’t work out which way is up or down or the falls or the river… Mostly, I’m worried about banging my head on the bridge^^ because unlike most normal people I appear to be bouncing with my feet below me.
Hand on heart? I wasn’t loving it.
And then I heard one of the best sounds I’ve ever heard… Far above me, very faintly, someone is singing. I don’t know what, but it’s instantly calming. And then I see the rainbow everyone else claims to have jumped into. And then I see the man who comes to collect you, singing softly, reassuringly, like a lullaby.
Really and truly, I have no idea why I jumped. Because I could? Because in the end, I couldn’t think of a decent reason not to? I’m not even sure that I enjoyed the experience all that much either – but I’m certainly glad I did it.
And it was only about 4 days later that I realised I should have done it sponsored 😉
*I didn’t actually say gravy at the time. But I’m on drugs**
at the moment so it seems appropriate now.
**Read Ouch if you don’t know why.
^That’s what 16 years of dance training does for you.
^^Once again, sorry Mr Edwards.