First off, it was chilly. It’s hard to do anything in the water while it’s chilly.
The whole group of us paddled to the jumping rocks anyway, even though I made it clear I wasn’t going to jump. The lowest rocks were seventeen feet above the water and I don’t do heights so well. But it’s always fun to watch my brothers leap off the rocks. I usually don’t like being a spectator, but when it comes to flinging my body off a cliff I’m content to be the armchair athlete.
My son, it turns out, is not nearly as content.
His jaw hung open when he saw my brothers flying through the air. He turned to me.
“I want to do it,” he said.
“You’re only seven,” I told him, as if he didn’t know.
“I’ll wear a life jacket.”
I was about to forbid him. I really was, I promise. But that most interesting of all adverbs gave me pause.
Why tell this young dare devil no?
Why tell him to act his age?
Why refuse his desire to push himself beyond his limits and seek the special place where the magic happens?
Because the magic always happens on the edge, or just over it. It always happens in those places that we fear to go. Out of the zone of comfort and familiarity.
“Sure, Joe. Go for it.”
Five minutes later he was at the top of the cliff, inching to the edge and shaking all over in fear and excitement.
“I don’t know,” he said.
“You can do it,” I called. “It’ll be fun.”
He put his toes on the edge and gazed down.
“Here goes nothing,” he called. And he pushed himself off.
He hung in mid air for a moment. His arms were outstretched and waving. His feet floated in the air beneath him. His face wore the look of joy and terror and life.
He was where the magic happens.
Here goes nothing.