Jumping Cliffs > Looking Down

Jay Park
February 12, 2023

This morning I re-read a few Journal entries Cole wrote a while back. This was the second or third time I read them. They’re good. Cole is a thoughtful man, two parts poet, two parts philosopher. If you didn’t know him, you’d say he’s a lover, not a fighter. But he’s also tough as nails. Showing up to help you get a bear out of the bottom of Sycamore Canyon without a gripe. I appreciate Cole and wish he’d write more entries for the Journal.

It got me thinking about the Memories, Not Dreams tagline we’ve adopted over the last few years. A period of time during which it seems we’ve done damn near the exact opposite. What does it mean, exactly? Die with memories, not dreams.

So a quick story here about what that is to me.

In college, I worked as a wilderness guide. I took clients on backpacking trips in the Grand Canyon and Southern Utah. On one trip to Havasu Canyon, our group spent the day at Navajo Falls swimming in the turquoise waters. This was before floods changed the falls. You could climb around the “shower room” to the top of the 50-foot cascade and jump. Standing at the top was a kid looking down at the water, holding onto the wall. I walked past him and jumped. When I climbed back up, he was still there. I jumped again.

The third time I made it to the top, ready to jump. He was still there, looking out over the water. I positioned my body near the edge, turned at him, and said, “Don’t think about it. Position your body so that if you don’t jump, you fall.” And I made the jump one more time.

As I swam to the pool’s edge, I looked back to see the kid finally jump. It turned out to be a 50-foot flop onto the creek’s surface. He came up in a deadman’s float, drifting in the current. As I readied to swim out to him, he raised his head. All I could see were teeth and squinty eyes as a smile beamed across his face. Sure, he flopped. Sure, he was in pain. But damn it, he did it.

When I was younger, I used my cliff-jumping advice to guide many decisions.

But now, as I sit here typing this post, I think of all the ways I sit atop the cliff, looking down while holding onto the wall. Are the stakes any different? Perhaps. But you could argue that this difference makes the jump more critical, as my time runs short.

What are the memories I want to look back on and say, “Yeah, I did that. I lived. I loved. I experienced.”

You don’t want to be on your deathbed, regretting everything you never got around to doing. It’s about creating memories. Memories that stick with you until your last breath.

Don’t just dream about your life. Live it.

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