The water was swirling in front of me… I wanted to jump in but I couldn’t. “Come on”, said a little lad as he leapt off the cliff with no fear at all. But fifty years of experience told me not to. I really, really wanted to do this. My teenagers had done it a couple of days’ previously and this was my last chance. It had to be at high tide and tomorrow I wouldn’t be in the village at the right time; then the day after we’d be driving home…
It took me 30 minutes of standing there and repeated attempts walking or running to the edge and then stopping. My eldest son was giving his “support” (“come on Dad, you’re over thinking this – you can do it!”) and my youngest was waiting in the water to assist me after the jump. But, however grown up our teenagers are, they are still children. They don’t have responsibilities (yet). Or fear.
I had fear. Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). But also fear of that water. I’ve never been happy swimming at sea. Ever since a wave knocked me over as a small child. Even at school, I learned to swim two years after the others. I was seven and learning to swim a width, then a length, with the five year-olds. Later, as a teenager, I was strong enough in races but in a pool. Taking my dive mask off at the bottom of Sydney Harbour for my PADI certificate was terrifying. And that was over twenty years ago.
We’d started out by swimming to the base of the point, but the waves and the depth (the same depth that made it safe for me to jump from above) scared me. I swam back to shore and walked out to the headland. And all the support from my family (who, let’s be honest, were probably quite tired of waiting whilst I repeatedly failed to jump) was not quite enough. In the end it was my sister-in-law’s quiet words from behind me (I wish I could remember what they were) that flipped a switch and I finally made that leap.
Done. Ticked off the list. Easily the most frightening thing I’ve ever done. And all for FOMO.