Don’t Stand There, Jump!

by Russ Hill on August 30, 2011

Russ Hill

A few weeks ago I went on a horseback adventure through one of the most remote  areas of this country.

I set out on a journey to the Supai Village deep within the Grand Canyon.

The isolated village is home to some of the most dramatic waterfalls in the world.

I traveled with a group of teenagers that I volunteer with.  We packed five days worth of supplies in our backpacks and paid an Indian guide to lead us on horseback to our destination.

The trip features a 2,300 foot change in elevation as you scale the impressive wall of the Grand Canyon and make your way across the rugged canyon floor.  When you arrive at your destination you’re greeted by a pounding 200 foot waterfall that supplies water to a crystal clear river.  The river winds through the bottom of the Grand Canyon and features miles of  smaller waterfalls.

The scenery is breathtaking with some of the biggest rewards saved for those who endure the most pain to find them.

I’ve been to this area before.  Once.  A few years ago.  This time, I wanted to discover more.  To see it all.

That meant I would have to hike further from our base camp than I had before and be willing to make my way across more rugged terrain.

The journey from camp took us through more than a mile of claustrophobic wild grape vines that towered above our heads and hid whatever lived beneath.

The jungle of vines vanished as the steep canyon narrowed forcing us to wade through the water.  The river led to a wall of rock where we had to rely on rope and climb upward to continue on our way.

The upper pathway eventually ended forcing us to find a way back down to the refreshing water below.  We discovered there was only one way down.  And, that was to Jump.

I am not a cliff jumper.

I enjoy daily life too much.

But, this journey provided me with a unique situation.  I could not see all I had come here to experience if I was not willing to overcome the anxiety of The Jump.  The months of planning, preparation, and the pain and sweat of getting this far down the path to our destination all led to these cliffs.

The options were to end the trip there or walk up to the edge, forget the dangers, and jump.

In that moment I learned several things.

I learned there’s value in having (crazy) people with you who are willing to jump even when the waters below have not been tested to make sure they’re safe.

I also learned that even when the water has been proven to be deep and wide enough it still takes everything you have to walk to the edge and throw your body over.

Standing on the edge and staring down doesn’t make it easier.  In fact, the longer you postpone any action and debate what you’re going to do the harder it becomes.

Fear can be paralyzing.

In that moment, I decided I had come too far to end the journey at this spot.  There was more I wanted to see and experience.  And, so, I walked up to the edge, briefly looked down, and JUMPED.

The payoff was enormous.

The sights and experiences of the next few hours were remarkable.  I saw a part of the Grand Canyon very few people have ever experienced.  I will long remember the sound and the strength of the powerful river, the view of the towering canyon walls, and the rush of trying to find a way to push forward to see and experience more.

Those cliffs and that journey have been on my mind quite a bit in recent weeks.

As I was reflecting on this experience, I came across a statement from Steve Jobs of Apple.  It’s a comment he made during his commencement speech at Stanford after he began his battle with cancer several years ago.

He said, “Remembering I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big decisions in life.”

In other words:  Jump!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: