The wind whips through your hair as you stand at the edge of a platform 150 feet in the air. Far below, sapphire waves slap against grey rock; a bright yellow dingy with the safety crew bobs about like a rubber ducky in a bathtub.
You look down. Suddenly your stomach retreats into your ribcage, wrenched tight as a knot. There is that feeling; that gut feeling of impending doom. The primal reaction all humans have in the face of imminent danger or in a nervous situations that makes you want to stop dead in your tracks and prevent you from proceeding. At the same time, your heart is pounding like a drum, flooding your body with adrenaline to prepare it to face your fear.
Do you listen to your gut, your body’s reaction telling you to stop?
Or do you listen to your heart, preparing your to face your fears?
These two chemical reactions in our bodies a lot of times can be the deciding factor in situations that might seem extreme, and the outcome from choosing one or the other will decide whether you live epically, or you embrace boredom.
It’s simple really when you break it down, like the beginning.
Choice #1: Listen to your Gut
Your gut is telling you not to leap off the bungie jump platform. If you listen to it, you will back away, unwrap your feet, retreat back to the office with your head down hoping to receive a refund, and all the while the soundtrack of your defeat are the exhilarated screams of those who did jump. That day will end with regrets, reflection, and overall disappointment,
Choice #2: Listen to your Heart
Your heart has your body tense and energized, ready to take on the task head first. You are nervous, but you trust your heart and take a leap of faith anyway. Immediately your gut retreats even further, the rope disappears behind you, and the feeling of death consumes your body as you plummet toward the water and rocks. Then, when all feels lost, you begin to lift back into the air, springing towards the sky. You realize everything is fine, and you are alive.
Actually, You are more likely to scream out joyful profanities like, “FUCK YEAH! I’M ALIVE!”
You are more alive than ever. You have never felt this much euphoria in your life. Your heart has never beat so strong. You feel as though you conquered death. Well, you conquered something even harder: Fear and Doubt.
Through an experience recently, it showed me which one to trust, and which one will lead to a more exciting life.
Earlier this month the DC Stunt Coalition invited its members out to the currently closed down Six Flags theme park. The stunt team coordinator that supervises the live action performances at the park offered for our rag-tag group to come practice fight choreography and stunts.
I jumped at the chance to practice more (no pun intended). You see, I’m not very versed in professional stunt work, but I’ve always had a knack for falling off of things and surviving, so I figured I’d fit right in. During the course of the day, we progressed from jumping ground level onto mats to flipping from 5 feet above the ground onto mats.
Then to the big whopper — a 40ft flip off a building!
Yeah, talk about easing us in.
The majority of the group clamored up the stairs to the second story of a prop building where we would jump from. Below, a 10X4 mat surrounded by a wood fence with no room for error.
It was scary as hell.
One by one most tumbled off, flipping last-minute and landing on our backs as instructed, some backed away and retreated downstairs. When it was my turn I stepped to the edge and stopped. My gut knotted up as a peered over the edge and my blood was pumping. Without thinking too much further I leapt off, flipped, and landed on the mat. It felt AWESOME!
Next up was an older gentleman, maybe in his mid to late 50’s. He had gone up before me, walked to the edge, and backed away multiple times. His gut was telling him not to jump and he was listening. From below, we all shouted encouragement to get him to jump.
One participant shouted, “It’s okay if you can’t do it! Our bodies are made to prevent us from doing things like this, it doesn’t hurt to listen to your gut!”
After hearing that I thought to myself — if he steps down and doesn’t jump he’ll be safe, but I know he will regret it when he gets home.
And then suddenly he jumped. The damn fool jumped! When he landed, he had such an astonished look on his face as he threw his hands in the air in victory.
“I did it. I didn’t think I could, but I did! Damn, I can’t wait to tell my wife.”
Even though his gut was trying to anchor him in the face of fear, he decided to fight it. Now he will have a spectacular story to tell as opposed to no story at all.
He trusted his heart, not listen to his gut.
There is no reason why life should be boring. Everyday there are opportunities to live gnarly; to do something that might seem outrageous, out of character, or even extreme. In the end it will be immensely worthwhile.
But, like all situations, there will be something opposing this exciting lifestyle. Some are easier to work through like swatting off naysayers and bitch-slapping doubters. It’s much harder to fight your body.
These feelings will arise when you first decide to quit your job to travel, when you ditch all of your belongings, when you first hop on the airplane, when you have your first opportunity to sky dive, and everything else that comes along with a more adventurous life. But instead of fighting your body’s reaction, know that your gut is telling you that something ahead is a harder jump to make, and your heart is telling you to leap.
So don’t back down. Don’t settle for boring. Just leap and I promise you it’ll be worth it.
(as long as it won’t REALLY kill you that is =P)