Mark Danger Powers

drummer • educator • author

On Trust. And Never Ever Looking Back.

Forget that “life is like a box of chocolates” nonsense. Life is like a bungee jump.

I know, I know . . . back the jolly trolley up, didn’t I say the big bungee jump was going to be on June 6th?! Well, it is (and you should come along!), but there ended up being another. Yesterday.

I’ve got such cool, crazy friends. Crazy #1, Joanna, made the snap decision that, since she can’t make our scheduled group jump, she wanted to go anyway. Right now! I get a call from her on Sunday morning, informing me that the day’s registration at bungee.com had closed but, on their site, it looked as though there were potentially three spots still open. A quick call to fellow percussionist and Crazy #2, Steve, and about an hour later, we’re piled in a car, crossing the border into Washington! Not sure if they would even allow us to jump, we GPS’ed our way to the company’s private bridge outside of Amboy, cold hard cash in-hand.

So, this is where I go into how we got to do it, and how exhilarating of an experience plunging 200 feet over a river at 68.3 mph connected to a bunch of rubberbands was, and how we’re all going back again, this time to take a running leap off the bridge, right? Nah. All true, but that’s so yesterday. Borrrrrring- I wouldn’t want to put you all to sleep. 🙂

No, here’s the scoop, Sparky: what I want to share most with you is- all adrenaline sports aside- what I really learned on that bridge . . . about life.

Trust

Steve and I are standing at the edge, observing as other bungee’ers are each taking their turns and marveling at the many thick, strong elastic bands connected to the jumpers’ harnesses. He turns to me and asks, “what is it about our brains that doesn’t let us get beyond the fear of something like this?” He was right. You stand and watch person after person climb over the edge, throw their arms out, leap away from the platform and have the ride of their lives. One after another safely succeed in this feat, screaming about how incredible it was as they’re reeled back up to rejoin us. Some even [gasp] do it again right then and there!

We see over and over again that it’s safe. That others can do it- right before our very eyes. But many of us are terrified. Frozen in fear. What is it that disallows us from trusting in the system and just freaking going for it?

This happens everyday in many of the non-thrilling-seeking aspects of our lives. How many things have you seen someone else do, maybe even someone you personally know well, but still decided that, for some reason, you can’t? Why? What makes what is possible for him/her, impossible for you? What if you changed that paradigm. Imagine for a moment what might happen if you were to decide for yourself that, “I can do whatever the hell I want. On top of that, whether or not I’ve ever seen that anyone else can.”

Never ever ever ever ever look back

I’ll keep this one short. As we were driving away from the jump site, headed back to Portland for a celebratory cerveza, all sorts of excited conversations were bouncing between us. One of the biggest (and I think that this is HUGE) was a shared observation we had standing on that bridge. Put down the CrackBerry and pay attention . . .

Almost without exception, every single individual who so much as hesitated when the jumpmaster yelled out the countdown . . . did . . . not . . . do it.

“Wait, wait a second. Give me a bit. Uh . . . whew. Wow, I uh . . . okay, okay. [deep breath] Alright . . . [“Three, two-“] No, no, hold on. Hold on. I just need. Okay, s#!+, I can do this. Whew . . . uh, nope . . . nope, I’m climbing back over.”

I couldn’t care less if you ever want to leap off a bridge. I couldn’t care less. What I don’t want you to do is to EVER stop and second guess yourself when in pursuit of a personal life goal. What’s important to you? What eats at you day-in and day-out, deep down begging for you to give it an honest go. Whatever that thing is, if you’ve been putting it off until now, it’s probably because it’s scary. Am I right? A little scary to set out on that path? Maybe beyond scary, you’re petrified. Frozen in fear. Putting off that leap you want to take.

Do not hesitate. If you stop, look back and reconsider, you are almost guaranteed to quit.

—–

Similar experiences? Please share in a comment below, pass this post along to your friends and join me in my group bungee jump on June 6th!

13 Comments

  1. What if that feeling gnaws at you every day, but you STILL haven’t identified just what the thing is that you want to do?

    Damn you for calling me out. Again. If I keep hanging around you, I just might do something of value with my life.

    • Hmm . . . I often feel that that lack of knowing what one wants to do can simply be a lack of knowing what’s out there. It’s important to get out, experience various new activities/places/people, and learn what options exist that we currently don’t even know about. You certainly do much of value now, Jillyn, and I’m confident that your upcoming travels will bring some inspiration and clarity, as well!

  2. Nice one, Mark. Trust, don’t look back. Just do it. Be happy. It’s all good.

  3. “When I dare to be powerful – to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”
    -audre lorde

    • Beautiful quote- thanks for adding this, Lucinda! Love it . . .

  4. AWESOME!!! I needed this today Mark. In my experience this is so true. If you hesitate doubt immediately starts to creep in. I’ve felt it as I’ve planned this sabbatical. I’ve hesitated and every time I do I doubt that doing this with a family is even possible despite knowing many families that are doing exactly what we plan to do. But I remind myself of what life would be like if I don’t do this. I’m reminded of a quote from Shawshank Redemption: “Get busy living, or get busy dying. “

    • Thanks, Matt- glad you dug it! Even bigger than the geographical journey you and the family are setting out on is the incredible internal journey that you’ll be experiencing. I can’t even begin to imagine the fear and hesitation that could creep up in preparation for something like that. But you are completely correct, others have done it, and are doing it. Very soon, you’ll be coaching along those in your current position. No looking back, bro . . .

  5. Mark,

    This advice should be written in stone:
    Do not hesitate. If you stop, look back and reconsider, you are almost guaranteed to quit.

    SO TRUE!!! I’ve been there….done that many, many, times. Now I leap first…and ask questions later…and it has made all the difference in the world.

    • “Leap first, ask questions later” . . . I love it. That’s exactly the Ready, Fire, Aim approach that I tend to take myself. 🙂 Thanks for reading and dropping a line, Maria!

  6. Hey Mark,
    Good post, but more importantly, good life former Hoosier Brother!
    I linked to my infamous bungy jump (the 2nd one). I have a fear of heights. First time Florida/not too bad…about 10 minutes to jump. Second time Vegas from 190 ft (100 higher than FL). Big troubles.
    I will say you can look back and still do it as is evidenced by my video. But, it makes it a bit tougher.
    Kind of like my wife and I talking about bailing on Indiana a few years back. Still here…but leaving soon! Tomorrow isn’t promised so as David Lee Roth put it, “Might as well jump.”
    The video is pretty amusing, especially the part at the end when I grab firmly on to the cord.
    http://todayhaspower.com/2010/09/never-be-afraid-to-make-fun-of-yourself/
    I would love to be there on the 6th but, alas, I have a few loose ends to remedy. My 6 year old has been hitting the drums for about 8 months now. It’ll be electrics in the RV:)

  7. Awesome article, really inspiring. And so true. There’s no way I’d personally hop off a bridge, but I do get the life bit —

  8. Whoa, you do like danger a lot, don’t you? You’ve already read my similar experience, about climbing a deadly cliff in Australia after a 14-hour flight. I promise you, though – I will never go bungee jumping. Heights are my biggest phobia.

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