The wicker chair on my front porch begged for a companion. It was one of those perfect summer days when the sky was blue, the clouds were puffy, and the breeze was cool. Without the willpower to resist the temptation, I plopped in the chair moments later with a magazine in hand and sunglasses perched on my nose. With a gentle sigh, I began reading. It wasn’t long before the clacking of cleats on concrete prompted me to look up and gaze across the street where I noticed the neighbor boy, dressed in his baseball uniform, walking down his driveway to put his gear in the car. As my eyes followed his movement, he suddenly stopped, turned around, and stared at a four-foot-high bush in his yard. It was like a force of nature connected our brains at that very moment. I knew exactly what he was going to do. Without a second thought, he backed up, paused, and began sprinting toward the bush. Just as a cloud passed over the sun, he leaped over the bush, landing on the other side without any idea that he had an audience on the other side of the street. Tucked away in a corner of my porch, I couldn’t help but smile.
As a child, I too had the urge to jump over everything. Urged into action by our relentless begging, my dad worked tirelessly over two weekends and built a high-jump set for my sisters and me. In those days, our summers were not guided by stringent safety rules, but instead, by our imaginations. Every morning, we placed the high-jump set on our concrete driveway and invited the neighbor kids over. With two removable nails to hold the pole and mark our progress, we set the pole at the lowest point, slowly moving it up as the sun rose higher in the sky. If any of us were afraid, we never voiced our concerns. We merely looked at fear face-on and ran right through it. Before long, we were all soaring over the five-foot mark, spurred by our lofty personal goals and the trash talk that accompanied every neighborhood competition. As we each made a running start and sailed feet first over the pole, we never wondered what it would be like to jump over cushy mats, wear padding on our arms and legs, or to don helmets. With nothing to cushion our fall, we never questioned whether we would make it over. We simply had to.
As I watched the neighbor boy that beautiful summer day, I thought about all the people I have met in life since I was a little girl growing up in the Midwest. In my opinion, there are two kinds of people in life. The jumpers, as I like to call them, are the kind of people I want to sit next to at a dinner party. They know life is short. They may not have scaled a mountain, swam with sharks, or sky dived, but they always have a good story to tell. Jumpers get out of bed every morning, face their fears head-on, and leap. Then, there are the wanna-be jumpers. Those are the people who really think about all the things they want to do in life, passionately talk about the possibilities with their friends, and then go home, make a baloney sandwich, and watch re-runs of Criminal Minds on cable.
I know what you’re thinking. We’re all not kids anymore. We have mortgages, bills to pay, careers to build, and children to raise. We barely have time to brush our teeth, let alone to plan an adventure. But I promise, if you just stop for just a minute and think about that kid who sailed over the bush in his yard, it might just change your perspective. Truth be known, it only took him thirty seconds to look around and experience the kind of exhilaration I know we are all secretly seeking.
Today, take thirty seconds and change how you look at life. Start small. Hop over a bush. Jump off the high dive at the pool. Leap over a hurdle at the track. Do it for yourself—and for the person lucky enough to sit next to you at a dinner party.