So there I was, driving in to O’Connell Bridge to jump into the cold, greeny Liffey for Cystic Fibrosis.. I was dreading every second as the taxi brought me closer to having to jump off that big, high, stone bridge. I’d grabbed a cab into the city, rather than take the car, because I had every intention of having a stiff whiskey after the event!
It’s not the first time I’ve done it. I jumped off the bridge before for the same cause, so I know what’s in store. When I did it then, I filed it away in the ‘One of the scariest things I’ve ever done’ folder. At the time, I climbed up onto the bridge with the rest of the gang, and suddenly realised as they shouted out the count… that they were ACTUALLY going to jump on ‘three’. It seemed like I had hours to think as those numbers flew past. I considered not jumping but realised that then I would be stranded on my own, in a swimsuit and goggles, mounted on the bridge wall above the Liffey at the hight of rush hour traffic, in the middle of a nosy crowd of delighted and distracted Dubs!
As the lesser of two evils I hurled myself forward to oblivion, sailing through the air with my heart in my mouth and my belly throwing itself in loops. Where is the water I silently screamed? (at least I think it was silent). I wanted the water, I understand the water. but this falling through air was killing me. Every cell and fiber was screaming – probably aloud now. Down, down, and then my toes broke water and I gulped my last breath with relief as like a bullet, I fired down into the icy depths of Mother Liffey. The city noise instantly severed, replaced by the muffled movement of the tide bouncing against the river walls, and the white fizz of me cutting through the river. I moved my legs and arms to halt my descent and looked upwards as I reversed direction and clawed my way towards the light. I was moving fast and knew I had plenty of air in my lungs, but it was a delight to break the surface again and gasp fresh breath from the noisy, screaming, beeping city. Delighted I looked around and grinned as heads popped up all around me and swam, laughing to the steps in the river wall. I jumped a second time that day, just to make sure I really hated it as much as I thought. I did.
Now here I am in a taxi hurtling towards the city. Why does Dublin traffic run smoothly when you don’t want to go where you’re going? I swore I’d never do it again and I really don’t want to. I’m having an interesting conversation with myself in the back of the cab. Why do it if I don’t want to? Nobody’s forcing me. So just don’t do it? How does that feel? Oh. You don’t like that either? So you do want to do it? Why? Not sure? Well what bit do you hate? The height? The drop? What’s the worst can happen? Oh, so refusing to jump and climbing back down from the bridge is the worst that can happen? So who controls that? Right. So concentrate on the bit you like, hitting the water and swimming back up. Think of the good bit. Put the bad bit in a box and have a look at it later. It’s not gone away, you know it’s there, it’s just archived, boxed away for now.
My blog today is ‘A lot to do about nothing!’.
By the time the cab landed on O’Connell Bridge, I felt strangely calm. Panic gone, nerves ok, sort of resigned to doing this. No big excitement, more subdued than elated. Looking around, I couldn’t see the gang. I stroll over the bridge to the wall and look over. The water looks wrong. We jump at high tide when the river is full, but I can see by the water mark, the river is half empty. A quick check of my text shows the meet is 10.30. Somehow I managed to read that as 1.30. Freudian huh? Here I am, three hours late for an event I had just managed to talk myself into doing. To be brutally honest, I’m thrilled to miss it, but strangely, I’m equally gutted.
Strolling to Temple Bar for a consolation cappacino, I realise that the worst has actually happened. But then I think of all the lessons I’ve learned. All that breaking down and analysing a fear, putting away the scary bits and finding a way to tackle something calmly. I can use that again, for lots of situations. I can use it for the jump next year too, because I’m definitely not missing the next one. Something has changed. Ironically, now that I can’t, I want to. Isn’t life funny like that sometimes?
The pictures of Robbie Clarke and his #heros & #sheros are starting to hit Twitter now. (Thanks to Patrick Corkery @PTKswims). They did a great job for a great cause and I think they’re all brilliant.
Don’t try this yourself. The River Liffey can be dangerous with cold, strong currents. This is an annual, organised event, and safety is paramount.
You can still however make a donation. Check it out: https://www.cfireland.ie/ Donate