Cliff Jumping 101….or a step into the unknown

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Simon Bird

cliff divers

In the last week, in different contexts, I met a couple of compulsive cliff jumpers. Not people who actually jumped off cliffs – but who, when they looked back, recognised they’d stepped into the unknown.

Both had carved out great success in their work and personal lives yet seemed to thrive on not quite knowing what was going to happen when they made a decision, in their words, ‘to step off the cliff’.

As I heard them describe their careers, neither were describing this in a macho, ego-centric Pepsi-Max life-style kind of way. Rather, they were reflecting, almost bemusedly, on the transition points in their lives, and the options they were instinctively drawn towards.

It became something of an analogy for others in the group – I heard people talking about how they steered well clear of the cliff edge. Another person told their colleague to go and look over the cliff edge for a change…and others talked about how they were OK about going towards the cliff – so long as they were on a very well-trodden path.

I’ve always been fascinated by the ‘What If….?’ question.  I’ve just finished Philip K. Dick’s short story, ‘The Man in the High Castle’, which describes a world where Nazi Germany had won the Second World War (perhaps an extreme example). But the point is, it made me wonder what would have happened if I’d taken a different job, or turned right instead of left – or behaved differently when I came to the cliff edge.     Sometimes I’ve turned my back on the edge. Sometimes – not often – I’ve taken the jump.

My relationship with the edge is complex….what’s yours like?

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