How to make a BIG life change: Step Three- LEAP!

Posted by on Dec 6, 2014 in Blog, Personal Coaching, Spiritual Shifts | 0 comments

How to make a BIG life change: Step Three- LEAP!


Okay, so before we go any further, why not relax and cuddle up with a little (hopefully inspiring, and not terrifying) personal story?  Here is where I talk about my Tarzan Jump.   And what it means to commit to a leap. . . literally.

If someone had told me a couple of years back that I would have willingly “Tarzan Jump(ed)” into a 150 foot free fall so that I could swing back and forth across the verdant and glorious canopy of the Costa Rican rainforest, I would have told them that they were certifiably crazy.  But, in 2012, I did just that. Admittedly, a percentage of my ability to do this was due to the social psychological phenomenon known as Group Think, in which research has shown that when a group of people (all of them actors in the experiment with the exception of one study subject) give an answer to an easy math equation that is clearly and undeniably incorrect, the subject of the experiment will just about always end up agreeing with the group, despite knowing that the group’s answer is just plain wrong.

This is how it was with the Tarzan jump.   Now, I’m not saying the Jump was wrong, or that I was wrong to do it.  I’m just trying to explain how I was actually convinced to do this.  The ingredients that created this decision were one part Group Think, one part adrenaline from having just zip lined for the first time and thinking it was just about the most amazing thing I’d ever done in my life, and one part “soul requirement”.  That is to say that one third of this experience was about me realizing that this Jump was a metaphor for my life.  My, as Mary Oliver would put it, my “one wild and precious life.”  And even if we do live thousands upon thousands of lives, we don’t usually remember them, so each one is still wild and precious.  So really, I just had to do it. There was no other choice.

I was wearing a ridiculous rain jacket and pants of fire engine red.  I was not sexy in my Tarzan Jump suit, but when you zip line in the Costa Rican rainforest, it is recommended that you wear a rain jacket.  And after spending $100 on a SteriPen, I wasn’t about to make room in my budget for a rain suit that had become more fashionable in the past 20 years that the one I presently owned. It was not raining that day, but as I walked the metal plank, 300 feet above the Earth, looking back at my compatriots as they smiled and cheered me on, onlookers probably wondering what fire I was on my way to put out, I considered praying to be struck by lightning.

My nostrils flare when I am terrified.  Much like my red rain suit, this feature of mine is not attractive. However, having studied the flight-flight response rather extensively over the years, I realize that in these moments, my autonomic nervous system is shortening my breath, preparing me to put my dukes up or run like hell, and somehow I know this, and in response I am unconsciously willing my nasal passages to take in as much air as possible, sure that the next breath will be my last.  I think I was trying to not faint before I died.  Go figure.

At the end of the plank and done murmuring things like, “I don’t think I can do this,” I was met and harnessed in by two gnomish Costa Rican cuties (who I was sure I would soil myself in front of, both who just kept repeating “Don’t look down…” with a simliar accent and affect to Ricardo Montalban discussing “soft Corinthian leather” in that old Chrysler commercial ).  They actually probably weren’t all that little, as I’m taller than not just your average woman, but your average man as well.  Still, I remember thinking, “Oh My God, I’m too tall for this!  I go waaaay over the line that has a smiley bear cub with it’s paw stretched out and a quote bubble saying, ‘You Must Be This Little To Go on This Ride.'”  I simply did not think it possible that these shorties could manage to rappel me down to safety.

In a last ditch effort to control something, ANYTHING,  I found myself desperately belting out questions like, “When?” and “Now?!”  But it was only after the tiny Ticos (the colloquialism for Costa Rican males– Costa Rican females are called, you guessed it, Ticas) told me nearly 4,000 times to bend my knees (because that’s how many times it took for me to comprehend that it was me they were telling to bend her knees) that I jumped.  Actually, they kinda pushed me.  No, really, they did.

But still, I leaped!  And part of why I was able to do it was because of Step One and Two (as outlined in previous blog entries):

a) Before that walk down the plank, and during, I dreamed that I could be a person who could do a Tarzan Jump, come what may!

b) As horrified as I was, I was also knew that if I turned back, I would regret it. It would have been okay, but I actually really wanted to keep my commitment to that leap.

So yes, I did it.  And it was completely terrifying.  All the folks that talked about how beautiful the canopy looked from the swing…  Well, I had to take their word for it, because my eyes were screwed shut for the entirety of the jump, and they did not open again until I was on terra firma.

Afterward, I was informed by my fellow Jumpers, between their paroxysms of laughter, that the whole way down, I had pumped my arms and legs, cartoon character style, furiously running either away from or toward something that wasn’t there, until the very moment in which my feet were planted once again on the blessed ground.  And once I landed, I was exhilarated! Woo-hoo! I may have been a bit like Bill Murray in What About Bob?, ecstatically keening “I’m Saaaaaailing!”, while tied to the mast, but I made that leap!  And a leap, not as I had feared, to my death, but to life– scary and marvelous and ultimately, always unfolding in perfection.  I leaped into the gorgeousness of a natural world, containing wonders that I intend to see as many as possible of while I inhabit this planet.  I leaped into the unknown laid out before me, a blank page for a map.  I leaped into the strength that comes from knowing that I could do it, and that I did.  I leaped.

I have the Tarzan Jump on a DVD, given to me by the amazing guide of my Costa Rica trip.  Every time I watch it, I remember how wonderful it felt to trust life that way, and to realize that even though moments of complete terror were part of the deal, beyond those moments I was met with the cheers of those below who welcomed me into the post-Jump world, as the ropes cradled me back down to the ground.

Remember, leaping is supposed to be scary.  If you’re not frightened, it is likely that it doesn’t qualify as a leap.

Also, it doesn’t have to be something death defying.  In all honesty, looking back at the Tarzan Jump, sometimes I still can’t believe I did it, and I DO NOT feel like I need to do it again. Ever. That being said, I will also confidently say that all the leaps that I have taken, the large and the small, have all been perfectly placed in front of me, to show me all the ways that I continue to grow into my edges–to see how far I’ve come and to keep me wanting more of myself, of my essence.

Life is messy and, at times, difficult, and some days the alarm goes off and we just want to stay in bed and pull the covers over our heads. Sometimes, as the artist and writer Mary Anne Radmacher says, “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”  It’s important to make that okay too.

In my life, I have taken leaps that have felt, for me, like the grandest of roars, and I have also tried again on countless tomorrows. Through it all, I still want to keep leaping because all of it is worthwhile.  Perhaps, because you’re reading this, you think so too.

Be well,



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