The edge of the world is a place most people don’t witness. It’s a place in your mind and a moment of epiphany. It’s a sun-soaked horizon. It’s a vista overlooking miles of mountains and valleys. It’s a flat map. For us, it was none of those things.
We saw the edge of the world in Dalat, Vietnam. Atop a clearing in the jungle, north of the former colonial retreat we stood, rooted. The crisp mountain air cleared our lungs of the pollution of the cities. The rushing water below sent our minds wandering whilst the hard earth of the mountain beneath our feet anchored our bodies to the spot. Completely awestruck and thoroughly out of our comfort zones, we stood and we wondered.
‘How did we get here?’
Negotiating jungle tracks, and rocky streambeds we laughed at our guides, joked with our group, and teased each other about who the jungle monsters would eat first. We wilted in the midday sun as birds fluttered and the cicadas’ chorus caroled in the trees above. We tiptoed over ant supply lines and tree roots, and waded across rivers. It was not until the trees began to part and the chorus faded, that we noticed we’d been climbing this whole time. Then we saw it.
The edge of our world.
The cliff disappeared into a deep, black pool of unknown possibilities. We peered over the brink, edging closer to our fate. The rest of the group had gone before us, and survived. Now it was our turn. We turned to each other gasping:
“7 metres isn’t that high is it? Surely its not that hard.”
We took another look over the edge as the sun refracted from the mist of the falls. Our thoughts began to race, our fears externalised in snatched glimpses and fearful handholding. We envisioned the ground rushing up to meet us; wet and cold. That inexorable feeling of falling, unable to go back, fate sealed and doomed to deal with the consequences.
Stepping back from the ledge, the cliff in the clearing represents a decisive moment. The tree roots and the rivers, the vines and the rocks, are the knocks life brings, and the birds and the cicadas’ chorus are the friends and family; the words of encouragement and discouragement you receive along the road. Despite the coming together of nature that led to this moment, the decision to jump is ours and ours alone.
That decision to hurl ourselves into that ever-present black abyss of unknowns, with no guarantee we’ll resurface, is ours to own. Life constantly puts us through these edge-of-the-world moments, and only by jumping in can we progress.
So take a deep breath, and jump. It’s what we’re made for.
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