Answer Your Calling: Jump Off Your Creative Cliff.
My body was wrapped tight in harnesses with long ropes attached. The vividly beautiful face of a Zambian man was inches from mine. That skin. Those teeth.
He had hold of the ropes and told me to lean back. “Are you ready?”
I started to cry — more of a whimper. I didn’t want to do this thing. Every fiber of my being wanted to run, to be anywhere but there. No, I wasn’t ready. Not by a long shot.
But holy shit, I couldn’t not do this. My tears were of fear, but also small droplets melting through a frustrated freeze. Can’t go back, terrified of forward.
Underneath me loomed a sheer rock face and a vast vertical drop. I inched back until my heels hung over the edge with just my toes clinging to the platform we were standing on. “Lean back.”
My heart thumped, breath stopped, tears rolled. He let go.
In flesh-and-bone time, I fell for maybe three seconds. In feeling time, it was more like three minutes.
My eyes were closed tightly. I had gone to that place I went a few weeks earlier when it was clear the bus I was in was about to roll off the road and down a hill. That same place I’d go through each time I fell off my horse as a kid.
It’s tricky to describe it without using the words of others… suspended animation, limbo, surrender? I don’t know. It frustrates me that I can’t quite peg the right words for that feeling.
Maybe it’s the place between moments, between breaths?
And maybe it’s also a bit like childbirth. An apex of fear, pain, excitement and dread that come together like shards of light to create a bright piercing white that becomes a nothingness more brilliant than any something.
And then, zoom. I’m sucked back to the here and now of the then, as my fall exhausts the rope and I speed to the other side of the gorge, with me being the weight at the end of a massive pendulum.
Now I want to scream with happiness and exhilaration. I’m relieved, expanded, ecstatic… alive.
And this is how I experience writing.
Almost every morning I sit down to write, or more accurately, contemplate writing — actually, let’s get really honest here, procrastinate and semi-dread writing — I’m perched on the top of that cliff.
Mentally I’m whimpering, wanting to do anything other than write, knowing I can’t not do it. I can’t walk away from the cliff jump. Even though it’s scary as hell.
Not doing it isn’t an option. It’s not even possible. The closest I can come to not writing is delay. That’s all it ever is. I know this now. It just has to be done. It will wait… an hour, a day, a week, a year.
What is it — this bitch of an itch that won’t go away?
George Bernard Shaw said: “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
And that’s it. Writing gives me meaning.
When finally I gather the courage to jump off that creative cliff, I feel alive and exhilarated, and a sweet relief from the tension of resistance.
It may not be writing for you, and you may not even consider yourself creative (though to be human is to be creative) but if you listen for that yearning under the actions and obligations of your daily existence, it will be there, waiting for you.
Find that thing. Stand on the cliff edge and fall. Even though it’s scary. And even though you’re not sure whether or not the rope will hold.
Leonie Orton is a blogger who writes intimate stories about life. She is also a freelance copywriter for businesses looking for unique, emotive words. When not writing, she’s teaching Yoga, playing with flowers, growing vegetables, exploring Earth, and adoring two spirited sons. You can get in touch with her via her website and Facebook, or sign up at her weekly blog.