The Difference of 34 Seconds.

Jaelen Buxton-Punch


September 13, 2013

I’m sitting atop of a tree 30 feet high. Below, I see the faces of Fellows; white, black, brown, tan, all  a physical manifestations of the diversity of social, economic, and cultural differences we’re comprised of. I can’t do it. I refuse. 34 seconds (the elapsed time from beginning to end) though quick and unnoticeable for some- seem like an entirety for me, a girl whose life has been dictated by what seem like snippets of only 34 seconds.

IMG_0111

All of the sudden, I felt as if my life were the twin towers: buildings that took years to build suddenly crumbling relatively without notice in less than 34 seconds. One event, triggers to the next event, which triggers to the next, and so forth.

This is how I’ve thought for my entire life: in fear. Do you know what its like to watch Fellow, after Fellow, after Fellow, jump blindly into mid-air as they scream in ecstasy and thrill on a zip line (which I logically know is safe), while I cowardly cry in terror thinking that at the exact moment I leap, no one will be there to catch me? So, I climbed down. Just like I always have.

We all have comfort zones, and when pushed we reached a point passed our “stretch”, beyond our growth, and into our panic. I live life in the panic. Excuse me, lived.

Fall training- in all its highs and lows- was about going backwards for me, not forwards. In order to progress, I needed a sense of order in my life, and for that I need clarity (did you see the clever Brasil shout-out?!). Clarity as to why my irrational fears have developed, clarity as to who I want to be and how to get there, and clarity as to the impact I want to make incrementally and greater in life. In order to zip down that tree, I needed to climb down one final time and know why I was doing it.

1176405_4667656668153_1407307990_nI’m releasing my past. Like a game of Uno, I’m pulling a reverse card and simply forgetting the past plays. The Twin Towers are an event I’ve held onto not out of fear of it happening again, but fear of me being the same unprepared, ignorant, and shocked child I was. I’m ready to let go, I’m ready to stop climbing down, and I’m ready to simply zip. If for whatever reason my harness does fail, than in the words of Ms. Falik, the founder of GCY, “I hope I’m able to build a parachute on the way down.”

I’m now on a plane. The jets are blasting and the wings are vibrating next to my window seat at 33g. As we take off, a slight smile escapes my lips as I recall the last 8 days. Conner, Libby, Isaiah, Drew, Shay, Amber, Alex and many more are now all in the air floating towards new adventures. My mother is somewhere in America praying (and most likely crying) for me, and my friends are moving into school and college. After quick calculations I deduce I’ve said over 400 goodbyes in the last 3 months- welcome to a world full of hello’s from now on. The front of the plane begins to lurch upwards, and almost instinctively I close my eyes, and visualize myself stepping off of the platform I was on 4 days prior- zipping, screaming, and dying of bliss hoping to never come down.

34 seconds. When given the option,which will you chose to let define you?  Will you chose to passively sit, zip, or repeatedly climb down?

Jaelen Buxton-Punch