Point in Time
from now, I could be anywhere. I could have any job. I could live any
life. I could be anything. Ten years ago, however, I was in Columbus,
Ohio. I was a little girl. I had my first kiss. I went horseback riding
for the first time. I had my first lemonade stand. I did a lot of things
for the first time, at the age of ten, which are now ordinary rituals
in my life. There are days when I wonder what will happen in the next
ten years. Where will I go?
Well, yesterday, I decided to go somewhere. I grabbed my keys, and headed
out the door. I went down the stairs, through the back door, and out into
the parking lot. My seats felt hot to the touch as I climbed into the
driver's seat. I pulled the piece of fabric over my chest. It still amazed
me that my seat's "belt" holds the ability to save my life.
I kept going through precautious procedures. I then adjusted my rearview
mirror by half an inch. One last deep breath, and I was off. I spun the
volume knob with great force, as my music blared through the openings
of my windows. I whipped around the corner without looking back. I did
not even need to adjust my mirror. I didn't even want to look back. I
had already passed the parking lot. It was too late now.
I pulled my car up to the curb right outside my friend's house. I watched
the clock teasingly change from one minute to the next. Finally, she opened
the door and quickly sat down. She gave a quick smile, and with that ordinary
motion, we were off. The maximum volume set the maximum pace as I sped
down the freeway. My music was shouting, and my car was speeding. While
inside the car, my friend drew a match steadily along the side of her
red matchbox. The match reached higher into the air with one long armed
flame. The flame grabbed the end of her cigarette. Her cheeks caved-in
as her mouth pulled at the filter. Her nostrils slightly flared as smoke
emerged from her nose and mouth simultaneously. The straight line of whitened
air blew out the tired flame. The match suffered dark burns. Its days
were done, and it was tossed out the window. The wind pushed it back into
the past, right behind my fleeing car.
My friend took a drag at every few beats of the music. The smoke swirled
and swayed inside the car before departing our dance party. We bopped
and moved our bodies as smoothly as possible within my restricting vehicle.
Everything felt so natural as we finally pulled up to the creek. I turned
down the tunes, and my friend flicked away the remains of her cigarette.
The butt sizzled out as one line of smoke streamed into the atmosphere.
Finally, it was out, and there was no more movement outside my car. I
took another deep breath, returned the former smile back to my friend,
opened the car door, and stepped into the future.
We left all are belongings in the front seats. We pealed off all our clothes,
except for our old swimsuits. Then I locked my car, and the beeping noise
echoed into the unknown. I stuck my keys on top of my front wheel, even
though I knew there was not a human in a radius of fifty miles. We were
safe in that matter. We took about twenty steps to the edge of the rock
formation. Do I dare look back? Well, I did. I looked back at my small
car. I thought of the small chance that I might never see it again. I
looked at my friend, Emily, and I wondered if I would ever see her again.
Would we ever look back and remember this moment? Would we think of how
stupid we were? Would we wonder what we were thinking?
I wasn't thinking. I was tired of wondering what would happen. I was tired
of thinking about where I would be in life, after this. It was time to
start living now. I grabbed Emily's hand. We mutually squeezed each other's
nervous fingers. We took three running steps. Then we jumped. We fell.
Well, I think we flew. The air felt differently than it did rushing into
my car windows. The smell of the outside world was stronger than Emily's
cigarette. I inhaled the freedom straight into my lungs. Our arms reached
up into the sky. My hair flew up above my head resembling a flame. I never
wanted to be put out.
As our flying bodies neared the creek I closed my eyes. A fifteen-story
fall later, and I broke the seal of the water. My adrenaline rush was
put out, and I left one streaming path in the sky. I opened my eyes back
up. I tossed in the wake in search of Emily. The body of water was hugging
me tight. I pushed away un-lovingly. I screamed for Emily.
Then I stopped. There was that smile. She passed it back to me. Then I
returned the smile one more time. We broke into laughter. It echoed louder
than a car horn.
Emily and I were not wise. Emily and I did not think about what would
happen in the next ten years, or even the next ten minutes. Emily and
I, however, were best friends. Emily and I loved life. Emily and I thought
about the now. Emily and I did not know where we would be in the future,
but we knew our past, and we decided what was in our now.
Everyday, I ask myself if the choices I make are wise. Everyday, I wonder
what wisdom really is. Then I think to myself, I do not really care what
is wise. I do not want to be stupid, or ungrateful, or inconsiderate,
but I do not care if I am wise. Maybe I can be smart, or adventurous,
or nice, but not completely wise. Overall, I just want to be happy. If
happiness includes wisdom than I will buy it. However, I will not break
my happiness for wisdom, therefore I do not have to buy it. I am
happy when I jump, and never look back.
I hope one
of your life passions is writing, because you are so incredibly good at
it. I picture exciting novels with AMANDA BARTLING in big letters on the
cover, and between those covers riveting tales of adventurous living -
your personal adventures or those of your characters.
Thank you so much for your story of vitality, engagement with life, and
adventure. I was carried back to the time when I was 12, visiting my cousins
in California. We were spending the day at this Olympic-sized pool. I'd
gone off the low board, and then the higher board. Finally, I stood on
the 10 meter platform, terrified, but determined to jump. Jump I did,
and a piddling 3-stories down I entered the water and bobbed up unscathed.
One fear conquered. But fifteen stories? That's something else again!
Regarding you closing comments, a few thoughts. We don't have to seek
wisdom intentionally, or even "buy" the concept. As I see it,
gratitude, consideration, happiness, adventurousness, and the ability
to face and transcend fears are all concomitants of wisdom. Clearly, you
are already a long way from the stupid/clueless/foolish end of the wisdom
spectrum, and I have no doubt that you will grow further in wisdom whether
you intend to or not. YES to your adventurousness! I have an online bio.
It ends with this: If any dictum has been central to Cop's life, it has
been Goethe's advice to "go and dare before you die." Go it