Ten miles of winding mountain roads will take you about 50 minutes to drive…
but it will also release your mind.
In the last few days, we escaped from our summer. The summer that hasn’t made a lot of sense. Or maybe it’s made total sense in regard to our lives and where we are as a family. Storylines have a way of doing that to you. The script gets flipped and there’s a lesson. A sense of Why.
And on this trip, at the end of this winding road where I was singing with my kids and enjoying the back roads, I did something that makes no sense. You may call me stupid. You may call me brave.
But I did it.
Because this summer is all about change and taking chances.
We’ve been spending time high atop the hills of Tennessee. My husband’s extended family has a home there overlooking the beautiful Norris Lake. I’ve never seen water so clear in a lake in the near-Midwest. You literally can see down to the tips of your toes when you’re treading water. My red toenail polish shot right through the blue-green clarity.
The sun, the slight tan I was finally getting after spending a lot of my summer in meetings and behind a computer, and the water that rises to the shorelines and the green smattering of trees that go up to the clouds– allowed me to free myself.
So as we cruised to the Cedar Creek Jumping Bridge, with 40 feet of clear water under the boat, I was unknowingly about to go through a rite of initiation in these hills. I was going to do the one thing my close friends and family wouldn’t even imagine me doing.
I was going to jump off a bridge.
Looking back, a couple of days removed, I can’t believe I was the vocal one who suggested it. I saw it, knew I needed to stare down a fear, and just do it. It felt right. And that was weird. Staring at fear and then seeing through it never feels right. When we face change or are forced into it, we just want to look the other way many times.
As I swam to the bank, that approach made me feel confident. Cutting through the water in a breaststroke and climbing onto the big rocks at the foot of the bridge felt natural.
But when I got to the top of the bridge, walking down the road with little rocks jabbing at my feet and my consciousness– I felt that fear again. Taunting me and telling me: You Can’t, You Won’t, Go Back Down Below. It raised its’ voice when I climbed over the concrete guard rail and stared down at the water. I really thought at that moment I could go back over to the other side, take the road back to the rocks and stay in my safe little part of the world.
But a few seconds later, as I looked down knowing that probably a few thousand have done it before me in that 40 feet of clear water, I had a moment of truth.
If you don’t go for it now— when will you, Mikaela?
So, some of you will think I am stupid. Some of you might say I’m crazy.
But it happened and I now know I can do something… that I didn’t think I could do.
The day continued and we swam in the cove near the house, ran the jet ski out into the main channel, and I even attempted to paddleboard. I fell off a couple of times, but the best part is when I was able to stay on.
Sometimes we need to stare through fear.
Sometimes we need to just stay on… take that leap of faith. Literally.
And on the other side, there is a sense of freedom and accomplishment. No one can take that away.
What does the famous poem say? I took the road less traveled by and that has made all the difference.
For me, I usually don’t take the road that is lined with change and requires the confrontation of fear.
At least, I didn’t until this summer.
This morning— THAT is my #earlyAMconfession.