Monday, September 20, 2010

Jumping Into the Mud

Looking at the end of a very high diving board, I balked.  My son, about seven at the time and standing in front of me, said "Mom, are you frightened?"  I allowed that I was.  "Can I go off by myself? I'm not frightened." Okay, I said, and went back down the ladder.

How had this happened?  I'd been a lifeguard and a runner and a treeplanter and hiker.  I hadn't really been afraid of much, and then suddenly I couldn't jump off a ten-foot high diving platform?  I convinced myself that my inability to take a relatively simple physical risk grew from my sense of responsibility.  After all, there were two people who needed me to stay alive, right?  I couldn't just go jumping off things.  Once upon a time I'd jumped off a cliff at least four times that high in Corfu, landed in the sea and bruised my tailbone in the process.  A minor injury well worth the thrill, not to mention the story, I'd thought.  Obviously, I wasn't that person anymore.  Now, of course, I was a grown-up. 

Four years later, I was wading through a creek, climbing hay bales and tire ladders up the side of vertiginous, slippery hillsides, and, in the end, crawling through mud for a solid ten feet. Almost four miles overall, and I almost didn't worry about getting an infection or an intentinal flu.  Five months ago, a good friend and colleague had emailed me and said a couple of fun guys she knew wanted to do this race for charity.  "It's kind of crazy," she wrote, "but it will be fun, and it will give us a reason to kick up the workouts."  So I did, sort of, and in fact was in better shape than a good many of the participants.  Nevertheless, my companion on the race could have beaten me in by an embarassing margin, but he stayed with me and made slogging through muck so much fun that I hardly thought about snakes or leeches.  Or staph infections or e-coli, never mind a broken bone, though my slow pace probably helped prevent the latter. Adventurous doesn't mean reckless: I might be branching out, but once a mom, always a mom. Still, it wasn't an anti-bacterial kind of crowd, so when in Rome, act like the Romans applied. 

Today someone who's known me through all of the muck of the past few years wrote to say I was a different person.  I thanked her but said that I thought maybe I'd not changed but just found myself again.  And it turns out, I'm an intrepid soul. 

Run the Jailbreak benefits Sowers of Seed, which underwrites wells for clean water in India.  Come on out next year and join almost 10,000 other crazy yet kindhearted folks.  It's rough, dirty fun.  And at the end, you get pummeled with a firehose, have some great people watching, and beer.  Not your usual Saturday afternoon.

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