Zane Zinkl, Variety & News Editor

She asked me, “How do you do it?” 

Her eyes were wide, and her hair whipped every which way in the wind.

I looked at her sideways.

“Do what?”

We had just jumped across a ravine, a scar in the earth only a few meters deep and a few yards across. I leaped across, and she found an easier way to hop over after much indecisiveness.

She continued her questioning, “How do you just jump without thinking?”

I laughed awkwardly trying to brush off any meaning, “I dunno. I just do it.”

She shook her head, “I couldn’t do that.”

I retorted, “Sure you could. You just have to not think about it.”

That’s what I told her. And that was a lie.

The truth is I had thought about it. Not about making the jump exactly, but about taking the risk in the first place. From the very first moment I can remember, I wanted my life to be a story; something awesome; a story worth telling. 

And there’s no story worth telling that doesn’t involve risk.

So right from the gate I took almost every risk that came across my path. Isn’t the old saying he who dares wins? The real risk, or so I told myself, was not having a story worth telling.

Of course, the part that gets left out is all the times it doesn’t go right, all the times it wasn’t worth the risk. But now, looking back, I’m not sure if those times even existed. Of course, things went wrong. Of course, people got hurt, myself more than most. But in all those vast array of risks, risks that really mattered, I’m still here. I’m still here, and I’m better for having taken the risk.

Yes, it could have gone better. Yes, I could have fallen. Yes, I could have died. But here I stand. This isn’t some arrogant proclamation of victory, merely a statement of fact. I did not win. I lost so many things. But the thing I didn’t lose was the experience. The thing I gained, the thing I bled for, was a story worth telling, and that was worth the risk.

The reason I jumped was because I accepted my fate. If the universe was going to take me right then and there, so be it. At a certain point in my life, I realized that I was going to make it, or I was going to fall. And it was not in my power to decide which. All I had to decide was whether or not to jump. I jumped because I was okay with any outcome. 

I jumped because to not jump would have been unworthy of the person I want to be.