The burgundy bridge lay over the crystal blue water. The wooden ledge was wobbly and beaten by previous contemplators and, more importantly, previous veterans. Two Kiwi’s stood on either side of me, with green helmets and rusted carabiners attached to their waists. Below was a bottomless river, the perfect tint of turquoise. The river was enticing, yet the distance from the bridge to the river was frightening. A white cord lay coiled on the wooden ledge. A tattered cord, with tiny elastic strings braided together, secured to my ankles. Attached to my side my 17 year old sister, who rumbled words of encouragement and excitement. Her eyes bulged. The Kiwis beside me rambled. Their thick accents and quick tone reminded me of prescription medication commercials, the ones that rapidly state the side effects of the antidote. The side effects that “don’t really exist”. The thought occurred, “are they rambling the side effects”. There can’t possibly be side effects for jumping off a bridge? This was safe. It had to be safe. If a sixteen year old American girl could sign her own waiver, it HAD to be safe. Right? Attached to my ankles, wrapped in a worn navy towel, was the cord. In that split second, the cord reminded me of a iPhone cable. Stark white with a diameter of less than 3.2 mm. “Stop thinking about it Katie, it is safe, these uneducated men say you’re fine”. I slid my feet across the ledge stopping nearly three inches from the edge. I looked at my sister, she smiled and laughed, “this should be fun”. Thoughts began racing in my mind, what were those Kiwis mumbling? What did that long, dry paper really say? Was the information in English, I mean I was on a bridge in a foreign country? And then it hit me.
Courage, the ability to do something that frightens oneself, a characteristic I have witnessed people in my life portray, and a characteristic I believe defines me. Courage is an action of bravery, vulnerability, and an action that can be simple and small. In T.V ads and instagram posts we learn of audacious travelers and bold daredevils. Our era has become adsorbed in these risk-takers lives, this era has lost the ability to recognize the courageous everyday acts that each one of us encounter. How frightening it can be to stand up for an idea, speak one’s mind, dress in a different way or help the needy in our desperate times. Our age has become afraid of these small and simple acts because we are nervous about the stigma that may surround our doings. In my life, through great examples, I have been able to learn courage. To wear the jelly shoes, find happiness in serving others and scare myself in the smallest of ways. Bravery is a characteristic that I believe defines me, because I am not afraid of the worldly values that encompass me. I have learned that by conquering the fear, that surrounds everyday actions, I am brave.
It hit me. I wobbled closer to the edge. The Kiwis reminded me, of a circling thought in my mind, “you’re going to hate yourself if you don’t jump”. Although that statement is slightly true, I stepped away from the ledge. Racing through my mind were thoughts of regret, sadness, disappointment, the loss of $286 NZ dollar, but most importantly happiness. I mean who even knows how much $286 NZ dollars is in American dollars. Oddly, in that 30 seconds, I felt courage. Whether bravery be shown in compassion, adventure or experiences, courage is an act of all intensities. May we all learn to be the artist of a new generation, and to create a world that feeds on courage. Courage is defying expectation, and I hope your bravery can come from defying our Era’s unruly expectations. I believe courage defines me, whether it be in everyday acts or in resisting the World’s temptations. May we learn to jump or not to jump, and to understand that courage does not only from bungy jumping.