Cliff-diving is synonymous to coolness.
As I watched Neil take another plunge from a 35-feet-high diving platform in Salagdoong Beach (Siquijor), I sighed.
Why does he have to be effortlessly cool?
You see, I want to like cliff-jumping. I’ve watched a couple of videos by Red Bull and couldn’t stop gawking. The act just inspires awe. And who doesn’t want to be awe-inspiring?
But I can’t. The closer I get to the highest diving platform (35 feet high), the colder my feet and hands get.
This is the normal response to height, isn’t it?
So, how could some people pull it off?
Are they sick in the head? Can’t they see how terrifying it is to jump off from that height? Perhaps, I should try the 20-feet-high platform.
This kid did it. Why can’t I?
I didn’t give up right away. I tried to use rationalization. Tim Ferris, my new-found idol, said that you should list all your fears so you could deal with them better. And then, try to imagine the worst-case scenario in great detail.
But logic insists, what’s the benefit to jumping that high? Is a round of applause from strangers enough? Will Neil stop loving me if I don’t take the plunge?
There are no negative consequences to not jumping. So, I chose to cling to status quo. I watched and did nothing.
Why Did I Still Feel Like a Loser
As we headed back to our lodging in Larena, Siquijor, I couldn’t stop thinking about the cliff, recalling how many times Neil tried to persuade me to jump and how I refused his invitation each time.
He had spent his childhood playing and jumping off from crazy heights in Camiguin. He practically practiced courage in those days. I didn’t have those experiences to draw inspiration or courage from. I was physically and psychologically unprepared to tackle this dare.
Even though he’d been cliff-jumping in his younger days, I still saw fear in his body language, which he admitted was true. His arms were red from the wrong plunge and twice he came back shivering from the cold and possibly fright. He told me that you really never get rid of the fear.
I wonder, so did he have a mute button to silence his fears?
What I ended up doing was swim in the sea just so I could get a taste of the seawater. As I swam, I consoled myself with this thought:
There is no shame in not trying the maddening leap. Also, there are only two options: do or not do. There’s no room for just ‘try’ in this case. No baby steps to help you build up courage.
I had to close this chapter and move on to a next opportunity to practice bravery so I could sleep in peace.
Note to non-jumpers planning to visit Salagdoong Beach:
You can still do other things, like kayaking and swimming. Yet the highlight of most trips to Salagdoong Beach is cliff jumping.