To Jump

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I climbed up to the ledge knowing there was no other way down; no lower ledges or escape routes. The rock was slippery and the climb steep. It was a choice I made originally to face what I thought to be an irrational fear. I would have to jump. I would have to go against every instinct in my body and leap, leaving behind the solid rock that lay beneath my trembling feet, (if I planned on ever getting home that is).I looked down at my team members’ expectant faces and then at the clear blue water beneath. I was frozen. It was like time had stopped in its tracks and wouldn’t let me budge. I began searching for loopholes knowing full well that none existed.  And in these minutes (I won’t say how many), an anger so deep rose inside of me. “This isn’t who I am!” My head was screaming. I am never the girl who “can’t” jump. When I was seven I believed I could fly. I would throw myself into the air, all limbs flailing and I would land hard, bruise my knees and scrape my elbows. But it was all for that feeling that even just for a “one Mississippi” I could be surrounded by nothing but the air I breathed, so immersed that it filled my soul. It was my being, even if it was just for a moment.However, in those minutes before I took the plunge, I learned the most valuable lessons in the entirety of my trip thus far. I learned what it was to feel helpless, to be lost in one location, unable to move in any direction. I learned what it was to feel like you’ve lost who you are and also the impact that a friendly face can have in a time when you feel like you have been defeated (thanks Chace).  But perhaps the most important lesson was that just being here is not enough.When we come on Hero Holidays we, of course, come to make change. But more important than that, we come to find understanding because with understanding we can truly find compassion and the drive to see more change made. However, doing the fundraising, getting yourself here and walking these streets is not enough, it is simply the climb. Every participant here has done this climb, set themselves up to leap, given themselves the chance to find true understanding of what it means to be a part in the never-ending cycle of poverty. But now we have to find out how we throw ourselves in. How do we let go and truly become a part of this experience? Understanding can only be found when you are swimming in the water not looking down at it.And it is not easy.  The things we see here go against any form of normalcy, stretching far beyond the comfort of the world in which we live or daily lives in both good and bad ways.  For instance, on my final day at the dump I was invited into my new found friend`s makeshift shack made of sticks and sheets.  It was their place to get out of the direct line of sun after many hours of catching up on the past few days missed, picking and sorting through trash looking for recyclables. I felt honoured to have been invited in. However, as I sat with her friends and mother on old giant tins, the flies were swarming.  They clung to every limb, I could feel them landing on my back sticky with sweat. I jerked my body and swatted at them, disgusted by their quantity and disturbed by their never ending buzzing.But then I noticed something that disturbed me even more. As I looked around at my friends I noticed a lack of jerking and swatting on their part. In fact they were sitting quite still, seemingly enjoying the shade. Suddenly I felt embarrassed; ashamed of myself for making such a fuss over something so normal in their lives which they had no power to stop. I began to wonder “what does it mean simply to accept flies; to sit, unmoved by their constant swarming and crawling all over your tired body?” It is so wrong in so many ways but there was something inside of me that had to understand, something couldn’t bear to have our worlds separated any longer by something so simple. And so, for a moment, I decided to be still. I allowed them to land on my limbs, my sweaty back and there I found myself, plunging into a new reality, so immersed that it filled my soul. It was my being, even if it was just for a moment.~ Danielle, a DR summer intern

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: July 26th, 2010