Monday, June 02, 2008


Has someone ever told you a story that just sticks in your mind? And you replay the story so many times that you almost feel like it could have happened to you instead of that person? My sister told me a story a couple of years ago that just lives on and on in my mind . . .

Back in 2006, my sister went on a 12-day bus tour of Italy, Switzerland, and France with 25 other middle-yeared women. While traveling, the women were offered an opportunity to paraglide off the side of the Alps. They would be strapped in tandem with a paragliding professional, leap off the side of a mountain, and soar like a bird into the clear mountain air.

Of the 25 women on the trip, only 10 of them actually attempted the jump—and my sister was one of them. She was strapped in a tandem arrangement with a young Japanese paragliding professional. While some of the women in her group chose their tandem professional based on looks (if you’re going to die, it’s best to die harnessed to a good-looking young man), my sister chose the young Japanese guide because she thought he looked smart.

Twice, she and her guide ran toward the edge of the cliff, and twice she balked at the edge. However, on the third try (with her guide shouting “Run, run, run!”), she leaped off the edge of the cliff and paraglided safely to a cow pasture below (“Don’t step in the poop,” her guide warned.)

But here’s the best part: After my sister jumped off the side of the Alps, life became much clearer to her. I had heard before about people having the experience of a life-altering “moment of clarity,” but she was the first person I knew who actually had one. She said it lasted long after she got back from her trip, too. It was like years of cobwebs had been erased from her brain and she was able to think and act with much more insight than she had been able to previously.

When I heard her story, I admit that I was envious. I really wanted to jump off the side of the Alps and have a moment of clarity. I could feel the harness, I could visualize myself running to the edge, and I could imagine myself soaring above the earth below.

So it’s on my list of things to do before I die. Even if I have to tiptoe around cow poop at the end, I think it will be worth it.

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