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Sunday, January 03, 2010

I'd rather be scared to death . . .

. . than bored to death, reads Caleb and Luke's new T-shirt. As their mom, I'd rather that death not be part of the sentence at all . . . but I understand the drive for boys at that age in particular to feel the thrill of pushing the limits. Grandparents send generous Christmas-money, and we encourage spending it on an activity or trip rather then an object. A couple of weeks before Christmas we had a little family meeting: what in Uganda have you never done that you'd really like to do? I was thinking in terms of hikes or camping .. . But Caleb had no hesitation: bungee jump the Nile. And of course if Caleb was going to do it, Luke would too. We checked the age limits: over 13. That meant both could qualify. So after leaving Julius Monday and family behind, we stopped off for the night in Kampala and then headed east again the next morning, to Jinja, where the Nile river begins its cross-continental northward journey, a riot of rapids in a gorge with steep banks. An Australian rafting company called Adrift has set up a bungee-jump from a platform 44 meters (about 125 feet) over the surface of the river.
A very confidence-inspiring burly young Australian man named Jack then took them to the top of this massive steel tower, and with assistance of a Ugandan whose name I did not catch, took a turn wrapping towels and a seat-belt-strapping-sort of tie around their ankles. No harness. Nervous mom was told how secure this binding system is . . but as I watched Caleb I felt like he was the sacrificial lamb being bound for the slaughter. Each boy then hopped with their tied feet to the edge of the platform, and dove off.
Soaring, endlessly, down, into the gorge. It was terrifying to watch. Luke was heavy enough to dunk in the river at the bottom (his choice) but Caleb only touched the water with his finger tips, which meant that when the elastic cord pulled him back up he flew, arms out, to almost half the height again. Both said it was an adrenaline rush but totally awesome, a free fall and a flight, completely worth it.
Sitting high above the Nile, with my feet dangling over the platform, watching them jump and disappear, their choice, trusting the skill of someone else, the stretching cord that would allow them to fall but not die . . . a parable of parenthood. Letting go, trusting the cord formed over a decade and a half of love and nurture to hold them safely, respecting their courage to jump into the abyss. Sorrow and pride and loss and hope all in one intense moment of goodbye. Better scared than bored.


Lee said...


Your boys have seem more of real life already than most folks see in a long lifetime.Glad to hear you are going to Mundri. Give my love to my daughter/

Karen C Schoch said...

Hey Mom you haven't lived the most boring life either even if you don't bungee jump!