"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear."
Yesterday, a few pals and I decided to hang out. Naturally we were all indecisive and had no idea what to do because frankly that's just a trait that young people seem to have. For a while, our conversation consisted of too many "I don't knows" until one of the guys chimed in that we should journey to a quarry in the neighboring town.
During this whole planning session via text, I was with my dad. He said I'd need to be extremely careful due to steep drop-offs, broken glass everywhere, potential protrusions from the water, and just be wary of the fact that quarries were not created with the intention of recreational swimming. He followed that up by saying to just be smart about whatever I decide to do and it'll all be ok. Thanks, daddio, for cultivating that fear in me with your cautionary tale; but beyond that sarcasm, I appreciate your wise words! Those thoughts did make me feel uneasy and got me thinking of a million "what ifs'."
Before yesterday, I knew the risks present at a quarry, but still wanted to at least see what one looked like in person. I had an idea in my head from seeing pictures and what not, but that's definitely not the same as actually experiencing something. I figured wherever the quarry was would be in a pretty open area and there would be a shallow part where you could get into the water. Boy was I wrong!
We had to take so many back roads just to get to this frickin' dead-end dirt
road route that was large enough for a small car, which ended in a dwarf-sized parking area. From there, we had to walk on a bunch of trails just to get to this sequestered spot. This quarry was tucked away by at least a mile of forest all around. It's safe to say that it wasn't in an open area. Thankfully the town that this particular quarry was in maintains the encroaching trees and shrubbery to keep the paths wide around the perimeter. Having scoped out the perimeter when I arrived completely crushed my optimism that there would be an area to enter into the water. The best spot I found was to scale down a few rocks until immersed in two feet of water where you could stand on the lip of a rock above a 20 foot drop-off. Honestly, I should have expected that. Why would the stonecutters have conveniently cut out stairs just to get into water that wasn't even there when it was a properly functioning quarry? Silly me. I guess I just have high hopes. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I had four other options of getting into the water if that easiest (and safest) one didn't suit my fancy. There was a rope swing off of a 30 foot high cliff that I could have used; or I could have bound off of a 15, 25, or 50 foot high cliff. I love nature and exploring maybe more than your average person, but when it comes to being audacious in relating circumstances, I tend to opt out. A part of me always wants to be dauntless, but I end up holding back and being circumspective. That is because I get nervous and anxious easily. It's safe to say that jumping off of high points into the watery unknown isn't something I'm into. Plus, I hate heights and become a big scaredy-cat when confronted with them, so I had absolutely no intention of cliff diving. Whilst I chose to use my makeshift stair to ease myself into the water, the guys were eager to take the dramatic drop in.
Of course all of the guys were gung-ho to jump in and rushed to the top of the medium sized cliff immediately when we arrived. Those testosterone beasts are just daredevils! They tried to get us girls to join them, but we refused. Once in the water, we all swam to the 15 foot high cliff. One of my girlfriends climbed to the top of it with the guys and was super excited to jump, but chickened out. Stupidly I joined her at the top for a bit of motivation and said "If a big baby like me can do it, so can you." When I was on the edge of the cliff I kept wondering why I had to suddenly feel so brave, and really just marveled at how alluring the view was. You could see the entire quarry and all of the multicolored rocks. The sun even decided to pop out from behind the clouds and glimmered against the water. The edge of the water became clear and easy to see through. There were trees that had fallen in, rocks that I'd need to avoid when jumping, and this slight turquoise ting to the water. A gentle wind rippled the glinting light on the surface of the water. As the same warm breeze flowed over the pool, it danced across my skin, leaving me with goose bumps. It was tranquil.
After a few minutes of taking it all in (/putting off the plunge), one of the guys shouted up to me from in the water that he'd count down until I needed to go. At "jump" I'd have to be on my way down.
At "jump," I surprisingly did just that. Suddenly I was falling through the air for a split second and then I was enveloped by bath-like water. No, it was not enough time to have this sudden realization that there's nothing to fear but fear itself (that was more of an afterthought haha), but I did feel this weightlessness and clear mindedness. It brought on a sense of complete calmness and placidity... until I hit the water and got a ton up my nose. That just made me squirm because of how uncomfortable it was.
Cliff jumping ended up being a euphoric experience. I'm so pleased with myself that, despite all of my hesitant thoughts, I actually did it. I know that I need to push myself more and just say "yes," since I don't want to end up missing out on potentially fun times. Luckily little by little I'm getting better and less worried and anxious to try new things. If you're like me and struggle with this, try to push yourself. Don't let the fear of the unknown keep you from exploring it. Muster up the courage to come face to face with your fear, clear your head, and just jump.
NOTE: Most quarries are privately owned, thus illegal to swim in. Refrain from utilizing those swimming holes and find one open to the public. If you ever find yourself at a communal quarry, be exceedingly cautious!! Quarries can be a bit of wildcard and you never know what's in them or how deep they are. If you decide to jump off of a ledge, thoroughly examine the water below prior to that action. Always go with others. Stay safe and have fun!!