how deep is the water?
a couple of christmases ago I was in brazil with some friends. we had taken acid and were swimming naked by the bank of a river somewhere far out in the middle of the cerrado (a kind of tropical savanna). the river was clean but because of some natural phenomenon a person had explained to me at the time and i’ve now forgotten it took on a brown and opaque colour in the areas where you could swim. i had climbed out of the water and was standing on the edge of a rock and contemplating a jump into the small pool we were swimming in. why did i have to jump? great question. but something about the situation, something about the day, something about the drugs, something about the feeling of jumping into air and your body stretching out and falling into cool water…i felt i just had to, you know? and what was the worst that could happen? i jumped and a freakishly sharp rock pierced an inch into my leg.
…luckily it wasn’t bad. we cleaned it and bandaged it, for a couple hours i limped around; my leg hurt, but the acid made me euphoric. all in all it was one of the best christmases i’ve ever had. i bring it up now because i’ve been dreaming a lot about water in these past couple of months.
in the dreams, i’m either standing on a dock above a lake, or on a cliff above a pool, usually quite high, and i’m contemplating jumping into the water. i want to jump into the water, but what stops me is that i’m worried about it’s depth. is it safe? where do i need to launch myself from? how far do i need to throw myself? if i shift myself to the side — maybe i can get a better angle with the light and discover any potential danger. of course the dialogue and preparation one takes is endless and often only succeeds in perpetuating more of itself.
the jump can’t be solved intellectually, but only physically. only by launching oneself into the air and committing to action can we ever answer the question. the question is “am i going to be okay?”
of course some fear is necessary. a sign in lynn canyon (a popular cliff jumping destination in north vancouver where many jumpers are killed or injured every year) reads something to the effect of“trust your fear; it’s smarter than you.” but obviously this isn’t a very healthy motto, psychologically speaking.
maybe part of what i’m wondering is attached to the question i asked at the beginning of the story — what is it that makes us jump? it’s actually quite irrational (maybe in a kierkegaardian way). something about the situation calls to us and we do. but only when we’re ready. and when are we ready? once we have been handed all of our assurances? even then we hesitate. wait for some final sign from god or our parents (you’ve seen small children on diving boards). the moment we are ready is when we accept that there’s no surefire way of knowing what will happen in a couple seconds. and jumping is all about suspension —