It’s a victory cry, a declaration, albeit a somewhat surprised one.
Each time I say it the words feel unexpected, as though I didn’t believe I’d be able to say them.
But if you’ve been around me at any point during the last 6 weeks or so, you’ve probably heard me say them often… after jumping off a bridge, or tumbling out of an airplane, or running off a cliff, or taking an unexpectedly sharp curve on a motorcycle, or sliding backwards off a waterfall.
I have been adventuring, and challenging myself at every point to do all of the things I’ve always said I’d like to do “someday.”
Because someday never comes unless we make it today.
Because other people have gone before me, reached out a hand to me, and shown me how to feel alive again.
Because I’ve endured the worst imaginable heart-shattering pain and betrayal, and… I’m still alive.
Although I know it is irrational (because I was in the hands of a professional and had multiple parachutes attached to me don’t worry mom), when I jumped out of a plane towards the beginning of my trip, within myself I came to terms with the fact that I might die. I accepted death as a very real possibility, and I jumped anyways… eagerly, with no hesitation.
In the moment when I made that choice, something clicked. Or snapped, I’m not sure. I feel not unlike Walker Percy’s ex-suicide, who “opens his front door, sits down on the steps, and laughs. Since he has the option of being dead, he has nothing to lose by being alive. It is good to be alive.”
In a sense, the first time I felt this surprise at being alive was a result of a choice I did not make. I wrote earlier comparing my survival of my marriage apocalypse to the sensation of escaping a burning building and just barely escaping with my life.
Yet each time since then I’ve made the choice myself – to run off a cliff attached to a kite, to jump off a bridge attached to a bungee cord (or not!) – in a sense I’ve taken back control of my life. No longer am I the victim of someone else’s reckless choices. Perhaps somewhat paradoxically, by myself choosing to stare death in the face, I have found freedom in the subsequent and unexpected thrill of being alive.
I’m alive, despite everything, and it’s no overstatement to say that I’ve never felt better about it than I do right now.