In 2004, I took a very special and long overdue trip river rafting down the entire Grand Canyon. It was a trip I had always wanted to do "someday", but never seemed to find the money or the time to make the trip.
After being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in April 2003, I started looking more closely at my "Roundtoit" list...that illusive list of things to do when I finally got around to it. It seemed ever so important to make this river rafting trip because my physical future had suddenly become such an unknown. A year later in May 2004, I found myself pontooning down the mighty Colorado River with 13 other adventurous passengers! It was truly a trip of a lifetime.
One of my most memorable experiences on the trip was climbing on slippery rocks behind a large waterfall and crawling out onto a two story ledge overlooking a very cold pool of deep, desert water. Our guides told us if we "wanted to feel a thrill" we should climb out on the ledge and jump...there were only four of us brave enough to tackle the challenge.
I remember standing precariously out on this ledge and looking down into the green pool, wondering if I might have truly lost my mind to try something so foolish. I almost turned back until I realized trying to climb down the rocks behind the waterfall might be impossible without slipping and cracking my skull open. I was on the "edge" with a decision to make: jump or risk falling.
As I stood on the ledge, my traveling companions began to cheer me on. I thought to myself, "Sure you chickens who haven't jumped have the courage to egg ME on!" I stood there rather frozen and uncertain what to do.
At some point, in what was probably only a matter of less than two minutes, I thought about why I was there on this ledge in the first place...I thought about why I was in the canyon in the first place. I was there because MS had given me permission to stop living for the future and BECOME my future. I was there because MS was teaching me to live in the "now". I might never again stand on this ledge and have the opportunity to contemplate this decision.
Suddenly I felt no fear. I was acutely aware sometimes you just gotta jump and trust all will be well...sometimes it's important to step outside of the fear and experience the moment.
In a moment of triumph and courage, I yelled out, "Here's to MS!" and I plunged feet first into the icy cold water below.
Sometimes you DO just have to jump and trust there will always be something or someone below to catch us...