Weird things happen to people who don’t experience fear in a normal way. One of those things is that they develop a nearly constant ache for some kind of adrenaline rush. When I was sixteen-seventeen, I was obsessed with jumping off cliffs. I made my friends drive to outlandish locations far and wide in upstate New York and dragged them on endless hikes miles into the wilderness to feed my need for freefall. (My parents would not sign a consent for skydiving or bungee jumping, so I had to improvise). Now, a million years later, I am restless and desperate for that sensation again (and again and again).
There is a moment, a split second really, that happens between the safety of the ground and the plunge downward. Maybe other people don’t feel it because they are too filled with fear. But in the blip, my mind gives up, goes completely blank, my emotions are numbed beyond numb as I surrender to fate. As soon as I register that I am falling, reality rushes in to kill that peace, but an echo of it returns deep under the cold water where everything is silent and slow.
As a writer there are moments when I experience this too. There are rare and sublime moments where my ego is so obliterated by a character, a scene, or an interaction that I can let everything else go. In these moments my writing is more than good. I had one of those moments this week and I want to share it here so badly, but then again I don’t. What I really want is to pass it on to the other writers in and should-be-writers in my life, especially Cathy and Jeremy. I want to take them to the edge of the cliff and like Elena heal them of every vestige of fear and self-criticism. I want to show them how to fall, ugly and ungraceful, but most of all uncaring, through the air. I want to pull them down deep into the muck at the bottom of the river where light cannot filter in. I want them to fly.
Postscript: This post comes with a warning. There is a distinct downside to flight. Once you take to the sky, walking and even running seems so ordinary, slow, and pedestrian. The higher you go, the further you fall. Gravity is inevitable and unalterable.