You’ve heard the call too, haven’t you? As you peered off the side of a tall place, haven’t you heard that voice asking what would happen if you just… fell? Jumping off cliffs is not a good idea – but don’t let that stop you when there’s a safe landing to answer.
Whose idea was it again? You’re absolutely freezing – and it’s only been a second in the water. There’s still the rest of the rock pool to cross. You’re only a few metres in. You can still turn around now – there’s a warm towel waiting for you on a sun soaked rock. There’s a soft(ish) mattress in the tent. There’s warmth, safety. There’s comfort.
That dreaded word. Comfort. Your fourteen-year-old bones are aching from the restraints of comfort. Why does it all have to be the same? Why can’t you be a little daring? No one’s stopping you. Who’s stopping you?
The cold water clings to every inch of your skin. You tense up, trying in vain to hold onto your body heat. You feel so frozen you’re surprised you haven’t sunk to the bottom – wait. Don’t think about the bottom, don’t think about the mysterious darkness, don’t think about what lurks beneath the surface, sensing movement, reaching out and –
A fresh burst of speed finishes off the swim across the pool to the safety of the rocks beneath the cliff. It’s time. Your mind narrows with determination. You’re going to climb up, walk to the edge and just jump. How hard can it be?
The rocks are mossy and slippery and not made for climbing. There’s a few natural foot holds, and a rope bolted to the cliff face. It’s in surprisingly good condition, good enough to be trusted with your life as you cling onto it and heave yourself up. Your pulse beats through your limbs. Your heart is in your stomach. Your hands shake, threatening to abandon the rope.
You’re almost up! One more foot in a perfectly carved groove and you roll yourself onto the ledge. You’re at the top! You stand up, knees bent and arms out to balance yourself. The view is incredible; you get your breathe back just to be struck speechless.
The reality of what you’re up here to do hits you. You almost double-over with the realisation. You’re here to jump. You voluntary swam across the water, clambered up the cliff – only to throw yourself off it. How mindless, how reckless! You peer over the edge – you know you shouldn’t look down but the fear is far too tempting. Your imagination runs wild with vivid images of the worst case scenarios. Can someone remind you why you’re up there? You can’t jump.
Don’t overthink it! Just count to three and jump. You want to jump. Your knees are tensed and your arms are ready to clasp themselves firmly to your sides as you plummet into the pool. Just take a breathe, take that one final step and jump.
It’s funny now, up here on the edge. You’ve been to so many high places and had to fight against the instinctual urge to leap. How many times have you laughed as you looked down, saying, “imagine if you just jumped down from here?”. Now when you’re finally ready to do just that… you’re petrified.
It’s just mind over matter. You hear a distant call, reminding you that this is the first jump of many. The faraway dreams you have to skydive, to watch the world tumble towards you as you descend from the sky – a modern-day Icarus with wings that will land safely on the ground – will never be reached if you can’t face this one fall.
And just like that you unfreeze. You don’t even count yourself down – you don’t know how long this moment of daring will last, and you won’t waste it to find out. The audience below you cheers, as if they can sense your conviction from the ground.
There’s a moment of silence as you fall. You think that if you tried hard enough, you could freeze time in the air. It passes in a second and you hit the water. Your eyes close on impact but you squeeze them open in time to see the white trail of bubbles above you dissipating, floating away into the dark expanse of the water. You push yourself up, watching the light above you get brighter and brighter until you break the surface.
And just like that, you’ve jumped. The water is just as cold as it was all those minutes ago when you swam across the pool, but the adrenaline keeps you warm. You look up at the rock face, it feels an infinity away. There’s a clear distinction in your short-term memory of you before the jump, and you now.
You think about every time you stood on a high place and imagined sailing towards the ground. Each time you naturally resisted that urge, that delirious idea that crept up. It’s not the end of the fall you wanted, it was the flying. The thrill of wings.
You can chase it now. You’ve achieved the impossible and it’s an easy task to clamber up the rock and let yourself fly again. You can follow it and still find your way to a soft landing. Listen to the call of the wild.
The call of the void.
L’appel du vide.