Adventure. The word comes from the Latin advenire, “to arrive at, reach, arise, develop”, which evolved into the Middle English aventure, meaning “fortune, chance, occurrence, risk, enterprise, wonder.” The modern definition is “an exciting or remarkable experience”. Have you done anything remarkable this summer? I have.
On a July afternoon, three families traveled to Indian Lake in the Adirondacks in search of adventure. We rented canoes (five of them… we were a big crew) and paddled across the lake seeking cliffs to jump off. The lake was wide, and the sun beat down on my legs. Sometimes I dunked my hands in the cool water to splash myself and bring relief to my pink skin. When we reached the opposite side of the lake, we puttered around some islands, consulted people passing by in a pontoon boat, and finally found the cliffs we were looking for: huge chunks of rock, at least twenty feet tall, begging for swimmers to climb them. We pulled up to what little shore we could find, our metal canoes scraping against the rocks, and tied the boats to the biggest tree trunks in sight. Can I just say that it’s hard to gracefully exit a wobbling canoe? I don’t think I succeeded.
The kids scrambled into the woods, up steep paths covered in pine needles. Before I could summon up the courage to jump from a five foot rock, most of the teens and all the dads had jumped from a 20 foot cliff, shouting “Kachow” or lines from the Lego Batman Movie. (My children are mildly obsessed with this film.) I’m not much of a risk taker. I like structure, and I hate heights. So I stood there, contemplating the jump, my heart pounding a little faster each time someone hurled himself off the cliff above me. I didn’t want to over think it. I wanted to do something bold. But, did I mention I don’t like heights?
Finally, I decided not wimp out and plunged into the lake from the top of the small rock. The water was colder than I expected, the kind of cold that sucks the breath out of your lungs. But I did it. I climbed out of the lake with a smile on my face and ventured up to the high spot on the cliff so I could dry in the sun. Then daughter looked at me and said, “Mom, you should jump from here with me.”
This is the daughter who finished her push ups before me in Cross Fit class and silently mouthed “I beat you.” The one who is reserved and independent, but that day, she wanted to do something with me. “If I can do it, you can,” she said.
I peeked over the edge of the tall cliff we stood on. It was a long way down to the water. But she wanted me to go with her.
“It’ll be okay, Mom,” daughter said. “You get that tickle in your stomach at first, and then it’s fun. We should shout something, like ‘gingersnap cookies’.”
“I’m never going to get out ‘gingersnap cookies’,” I said.
“It’s farther down than you think, you’ll have plenty of time,” daughter replied. “Ooops. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that.”
I stared at the trees across the lake, knowing I had to take this leap, for me, for daughter, for the sake of adventure. I didn’t let myself think about the height. “Let’s go,” I said. My heart beat hard against the sides of my throat, but I ignored it.
Husband counted us down… “One, two, three!” Off that rock we jumped, falling down through the air longer than I expected. I tried to yell “Gingersnap cookies” but I only got to “Ging-” before I succumbed to a full throttle scream. My body hit the lake feet first, and I sunk down into the cold, dark water. When I got my head together, I kicked to the surface and let out a satisfied hoot. I had done it.
I got out, again smiling, and climbed up through the trees to the top of the cliff to warm myself in the sun. Husband looked at me and said, “Now you have to go with me.”
But I did.
I was the only Mom who jumped off of the high cliff that day, and I did it twice. Sometimes, it’s good to do something that scares you.
Which brings me back to my original question. Have you taken a risk yet this summer or done something remarkable? Hurry up… August will be over soon.