One Foot Forward

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Helmet, check.

Vest, check.

Strapped sandals, check.

Waterproof bag with cellphone/wallets in Ziplocs, check.

And most of all, the most important thing to secure, friends with GoPro, check.

Now, with a confident smile, a ready heart and all gears packed, I’m ready for the greatest adventure of my life…. Or at least that’s what I’ve projected myself to be.

My fellow Toastmasters and guests, we all love a great adventure! So when I went to Cebu for domestic assignment, one of our fellow domestic assignees told us:

“Hey, we should go and try canyoneering?”

“Say what?”

“Canyoneering. It’s trekking within a canyon where in you jump from one waterfall or cliff to another, then you swim, you climb, you walk and do all that sorts of stuff. Sounds cool, right?”

“Uh-huh. How high are the waterfalls or the cliffs again?”

“Oh, some may be higher than the other.”  “So how high?”

“I don’t know we’ll just figure it out when we get there.”  “Okay, cool.”

And so our adventure begins. We arrived at the starting point around 7AM. It’s a 3-hour commute from the city. We waited for 2 more additional members of our group, wore our helmets and vest, briefed with security precautions, said a little prayer and off we go.

The first drop off is the make or break point. It’s either you muster all your courage to jump a 25 foot cliff or you chicken out. I almost chicken out. Seriously? That’s the first jump?! I thought we’d somehow be starting with something way less than 25 ft then build it up a notch once we progresses. But no, they waste no time in either getting you really pumped up to what lies ahead of you or scaring all the shit out of you. So guys, if you’re reeling up for this, be physically and mentally prepared. But, oh well never mind, don’t take it from me. I thought I was prepared.

And so there I was about to do my first jump, our tour guide Stewart was very patient in encouraging all of us. He was like “Okay, breath in (deep), then breath out, release all that tension. Relax. Just pretend that you’re just climbing down the stairs with one foot forward, followed by another. Okay, you can do this. I’ll count to three then you jump. 1, 2, 3!”

I was like, “Wait I’m not ready. Let’s do it again.”

“Okay then, 1, 2, 3!” “You’re counting too fast, count slowly.”

“1, 2,…” “Can you count to 10?”

The tour guide was getting frustrated now and was about to countered, so I said, “No, never mind, I’ll count at my own pace. So, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1… Oh forget it!” And I jumped and there I go feeling literally down the drain with my first 25-ft jump of my life. I couldn’t remember if I was screaming during that jump and all other jumps that came after that. I think I did for some jumps but for jumps as high as this, I thought I screamed but no sound escaped me.   I thought I left my heart, my stomach and my brain hanging in the air after that jump. And I thought I was going to drown as I landed on water. Note: I don’t know how to swim.

Well, I’m still here so you know a least I re-surfaced from the water each time and my heart, stomach and brain came back to me each time and I think they’re still in their right places.

The last jump was a thirty foot high steep and narrow cliff, that’s equivalent to a 3-storey building. I didn’t took my sweet time in jumping at this last one. I jumped as fast as I can count to three because I’ve learned painfully the hard way that the more you delay your jump and stare down at the focal point of your dilemma, which in my case is the body of water below, ugly thoughts will come creeping in giving you all the more reason to hold back.

And when I successfully made the last jump I was screaming at the top of my lungs, “Rock and roll to the world!” Woohoo! I survived! Hallelujah! I did it! It was very surreal.

My fellow toastmasters and guests, that’s probably the boldest and most daring thing I’ve done in my life. Probably not going to do something similar anytime soon, probably not ever. You know, signs of aging. And I know that not everyone is cut out in doing this so I won’t encourage all of you to do the same, at least I’m being considerate unlike my friends who really gave me no choice. But on an end note, whatever it is that you wish to do, the first step is always the crucial step. You either jump at it or you chicken out and if you muster the courage to jump, then start it off with one foot forward.