When I was five, we lived in Virginia. That year my Kindergarten class was doing a presentation of some sort. Before our grand performance started my classmates and I were all lined up on stage. Not a single one of us was standing still. Of course, we were five! However, I was not distracted by my classmates. In fact, neither they nor the audience had any idea who was in their presence. See that night I had slipped a AA battery in my pocket. The more I fiddled with it the more strength I gained. With that power I turned into Battery Man, and had the power peform many feats...the greatest being jumping from the stage! I rubbed as much power as I could from the battery through my little hand and into my being, and proceeded to the edge. I extended my arm, battery in hand, and blurted, "Battery Man...!" With my declaration came my leap and successful landing. I looked up and realized that no one was really watching. Now those of you who know me might think I was disappointed that I didn't instantly become the center of attention. I do enjoy the center of attention and feel like I handle it well, but I do not need it... In this case it was more exciting to me that I had all of this power and the ability to jump from a four foot (taller than me at the time) stage...and no one knew it! I was free to unleash my powers over and over again without kids getting in the way, trying to do the same thing (which clearly they deficient the power to do so), or parent/teachers putting the kaibash on my fun. As my memory recalls I jumped a few more times, each as exciting as the first. Eventually the real show had to go on and I found my place again on the stage. I don't have any recollection of what the performance was for or what it was about. But I did keep that battery tight fisted in my pocket the remainder of the evening.
This story is the first of many that involve me jumping off of things. Ask most boys and they could probably tell you about 90% of the things they jumped off of in their lives. All of which should have made their lives a lot shorter.
To site a few more... I remember having an increased awareness of my own mortality around age 10-11. We used to occationally go to the public pool in Bloomington, Minnesota. They had a 25 foot platform. I stared at it like Squints at Wendy Peffercorn. Unfortunately, Bloomington didn't have the same beauty of a life guard. The good news is that I didn't need her, nor was I jumping to impress anyone. I finally got the gumption and made the jump. Scared all 50 lbs of me, but I did it!
In my teenage year we used to drive to the Minnesota/Wisconsin border. There's a section of the Minnesota River called Taylor's Falls lined with cliffs. We made our way along the 20-30 footers jumping away. We then found some 40-50 footers. Scared, but did it. All the while we had our trusty test dummy, Benjamin Lawrence Kacher. Bless him. He lives to tell the same story, when maybe he shouldn't have! There were never any near death moments we know. But that section of river was used by loggers to transport lumber. We were told that occasionally old logs that were lodged underwater will come loose and float down river under the surface. Any way... We found the mother of all the cliffs, a 70-footer on the Wisonsin side of the river. Which is good news since it's technically illegal in the Minnesota side. My friends spent most of the afternoon jumping this cliff. I couldn't get the guts to do it though. Finally, all of my friends packed up and we started to hike back down the backside and leave for the day. As I walked away in defeat I turned back towards the cliff, dropped my things, took off my shirt, and marched back... Someone yelled, "Matt's gonna do it!" So they all followed. I got right to the edge and I went for it! I surfaced to cheers and knew I had conquered yet another fearful leap!
My senior year of high school the Snow Core tour came through Fargo, ND. Bands included Soul Coughing, Redman (Sans Meth), and Everclear. The show was great, as far as I recollect... Time has shown otherwise for these bands. At one point Everclear had the entire Fargodome (yes, its real...as real as Fargo itself) jumping in time. Art Alexakis then told people from the crowd to get up on stage and dance. For a moment I was disappointed that although I was on the floor I was too far away to get up to the stage in time. Then a moment of genius, crowd surf! I've never trust the hands of so many strangers at once. Nor had I ever been more glad I wasn't a girl. I made it to the front and was about to hop on stage when security tried to stop me. I yelled, "Everclear said it was ok," and I point to Alex. He gave the nod and security obeyed. So after dancing around a bit and pocketing a guitar pick I found on stage the song ended and we were directed off the stage. In my 18 years I had developed a strong desire to stage dive. I think probably from watching Pearl Jam video's in the early 90's. Thanks Eddie. So when I saw a break in between two guards I went for it. I ran, I leaped, and I'm pretty sure I kicked a couple unexpecting fans since I kind of came out of nowhere. The good news is that they did break my fall and I ran back to my friends totally stoked (That's what we were in the 90's)! About four years later I was at an A New Found Glory show and managed to get on stage and relive the dream!
Those are just a few of the many jumps that should have led to more serious consequences. Lately though I did something that I think tops them all! Jump Rock in Orange County, CA.
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We didn't have camera's so this is as good as I could do.
Jump Rock is just off of Corona Del Mar beach. You have to walk down the shore and shimmy some cliffs to get to the point where you swim out. Just a portion of the group made it the whole way (Syd, Josh, Kristin, and myself). It was high tide, so we had to time our moves along the cliffs with the sets coming in. It was pretty gnarly! Swimming out to the rock was a trip since you were still negotiating the sets, but now they were breaking around the rock and coming in from two directions. This little North Dakota boy has come a long way! As you look at the map above... We started jumping on the right side. Its about 25-30 feet high and has a clear and deep landing. In the middle there is a natural arch. We jumped off the front which was pretty cool. We also jumped off the back, called the back door. You have to place yourself just right so you don't get jacked by rocks on either side. Also, you have to time your jump with the waved so that the water is high, but that you don't get pulled into the rocks by a wave. This place was so fun! If you ever have the chance, find a local and go! You'll love it.
Heights have scared me most of my life. But to bring this post to a close might I submit that we all find something high. Something so high, lofty, or out of reach that is scares you... Don't just reach for it. Don't just reach it's summit. Jump off of it! That's when you've really conquered.