My toes curled around the smooth rock, and my legs shook as I made an effort to rise up and let go of the part of the cliff that I was gripping for security. The moss tinted water below seemed so far away. I attempted a shaky breath. The camera was perched and ready to go; there was no going back. My friends shouted up at me, "Yeah, Tabitha!" "You got this!" "Whooooo!" I shouted down, "I don't think I can do it!" "Yes you can! Just jump!" I had nearly extinguished my last ounce of courage and was ready to run back to secure ground. I mean, come on! I'm Tabitha Neal. The girl who is afraid of roller coasters--more specifically the kind of roller coaster that lifts you up in the air and drops you down at a ridiculously fast pace. And here I was on the edge of a cliff, peering down to the water below, getting ready to jump off. My fear was that I didn't have a lot of room for movement on that little rock I was standing on, not nearly enough to jump myself far enough out that I didn't run into the rest of the cliff. I don't know what happened next exactly except that I was falling fast through the air thinking, "HOLY CRAP HOLY CRAP HOLY CRAP!!!!" and due to the rush couldn't catch my breath to hold it once I hit the water. I plunged beneath the water hoping desperately I could get to the top in enough time to breath. I felt my feet touch the sandy floor, and I pushed myself up. I arrived coughing and sputtering the water I had swallowed, burped a couple times, and swam over to the tree with the rope hanging off of it. I did it! I jumped off a cliff! All by myself! No one had to push me. I once again, faced those fears of mine and took a leap of faith. I breathed a sigh of relief that I could now say I'd done it and never have to do it again for as long as I lived.
I spent the next bit of time enjoying the comfort of being able to stand in the shallow water, attempting to grip the scummy rocks with my feet, swimming successfully the length of the pond a few times, sunning myself on the rocks, and sliding down the waterfall. It was blissful to share that with my friends. A while later I got out to look at my camera. I was saddened to see that the picture was taken too soon and that I was still pictured standing on the rock though I was in a position that said I was about to jump. But no, this wouldn't do. I really wanted a good picture. I needed proof that I had done it. I discussed this with a friend who was in the same boat as I and we later trudged back on the cliff to attempt jump #2.
This time I was more prepared mentally. I had already done it so it wasn't as big of a deal to do it again. It did take a while to actually go for it though because I was quite out of breath from swimming across the pond to get out and climb back up. I don't swim very often. Dan Keith and Daniel Ramos were going in front of me and took forever to try to figure out the best way for them to jump at the same time while doing something creative while being safe. I started getting a little anxious again because of the wait. But, I held up my hand to countdown from 3 so everyone would know when I was doing it to hold me accountable, and jumped again. Wasn't as scary, though I did slap the water harder....my leg is still feeling that today, and I got a better picture. But I definitely don't want to do it again. Haha.
The rest of the day was great! I loved that we doubled the amount of people that we took on the hike compared to last time. More fun memories were made, and I was glad to have it documented on camera. The hike back was brutal like always, except this time we were short on water and it was probably about 85 degrees. My friends said they wanted to go again, but I think we'll have to put it on hold for a while as the trail sites don't recommend doing it too late into the summer months because of the heat and the waterfall dries up. After we got back we headed to Pit Stop for late lunch and early dinner, then some of us went to Brett's to hang out, swim, eat, and watch a movie (or sleep through the movie from utter exhaustion like me!). It was such a blessed day to spend with friends. I look back at my weekend with the same overwhelming feeling of thankfulness that I had after my graduation party. I am so blessed to have such wonderful friends. The community that I get to share with them is what has made my summer one of the best summers of my life. I'm getting no sleep because I insist on having a social life on top of God and work and soon school, but every minute has been worth it. I love the way God blesses me. He is so good, and I so love my friends!