As I stand on the edge of this precipice, I know I am in no danger – yet, every cell of my body is telling me that I am about to die. My mind is still not strong enough to tell my body to be quiet. I, of all people, should not have this problem, especially after all this time.
For several years now, I have had a unique gift: I can see the future. It comes to me in visions more vivid than lucid dreams, images clearer and sharper than I experience in my waking hours. All my senses become more acute; I can hear crawling ants and softly waving grass, I can see the ridges and bumps on what should be smooth skin, and taste the ever-present dust in the city air. I see the future so well that reality, when it comes to pass, is ultimately disappointing.
The waves below look violent and forgiving all at once. I cannot hear them crashing over the thunderous volume of my heartbeat and all the blood pumping in my ears.
I am going to die.
But I am not going to die, and I know this for a fact.
I’m so high up that a man below me would look no longer than my index fingernail. I have never known myself to be afraid of heights. I have never known myself to be afraid of much.
I thought people were afraid of flying because they were afraid of falling, and afraid of falling because they were afraid of dying. I am not afraid of dying because I know I am not going to.
I have seen the future. There is no shortness of breath, no broken bones, not a single hair wet in the instant I resurface. It will be refreshing and I will be unharmed, glowing from the effect of the plunge, if only I just take the risk and dive.
I am the embodiment of what it is like to know the end before I have ever faced the beginning. I know what it feels like to have to suffer for the prize at the finish line, although I am not yet sure that knowing what the prize will be makes the trudging through the mud any less arduous. I know that it makes no difference to me. I know that I am resilient and full of grit. With concentration and determination, I can work my way through nearly all of life’s Herculean hurdles. I can see the future; I cannot believe in impossibilities.
It should not be so frightening, the prospect of jumping.
The voice in my head, the voice of the giver of my power, tells me I am not drenched in fear for lack of faith in my abilities. It whispers one word over and over again so that it feels like it is ricocheting off different parts of my skull in thumping echoes: Control. Control. Control.
I need nothing from you but your flight, says the voice. I do not need you to skin the Nemean lion. That involves strength. You have that. I do not need you to beat the ticking clock on a time bomb. That involves speed. You have that. I do not need you to resolve difficult disputes in throne rooms. That involves cleverness. You have that. What I want is your control. Give it up to me. Dive.
I close my eyes to see if that will make it better. Instead, it all gets worse. My palms and forehead begin to glisten. I fear I might fall by accident. I feel myself begin to sway in dizziness. I panic and my eyes open. They immediately look down. The fall will be long and agonizing.
In the state of what the voice calls flight, I will be in free fall. Those seconds between the moment my feet leave this ground and the moment my body hits the water, there will be nothing I can do to save myself by strength or wit. I will be at the mercy of the wind, if only for a minute. And in that minute, something in me will die, will be dying, will have died.
I am going to die.
I can’t do it.
I step away from the ledge. I try to move backwards, on to safer, firmer ground, where I know what will happen as long as I execute the right motions, lifting one foot and then the other, taking care to govern where my feet land. Yet I have already lost control. My feet move forward against my will. They keep moving as if something in me believes I can walk on air: an impossibility. It’s the last thing in the world I want to do, but…
I am going to dive.