Have you ever thought of jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge at night, when the traffic has subsided and it just seems like the right thing to do? I often did.
Flying into the darkness, with cold, fast currents 220 feet below, seeing the Alcatraz prison off in the distance, all of that appeared exciting, meaningful, and just a good idea.
Back in the early 1970s, when I was living in San Francisco, working as a flight attendant and slowing going crazy, there were many nights of standing looking over the edge. I didn't know I was going crazy, of course. I thought wanting to fly from a great point of view was normal. But then there was the coming down from it all, the transition from flight to landing. Even when I was going through the horrible chemical and emotional imbalance of schizophrenia, I was much too vain to want to be a mere "splat" in the bay. ( I actually still remember thinking this!) At that time, the thought of my ugly "splat" pulled me back from the edge and into a cold and lonely place where preparing for my next flight to Hawaii or New York felt like my only connection with certainty, with what was familiar and stabilizing.
But soon I was put on the company "sick list". With thoughts like "flying" off a bridge - and there were many similar thoughts - it was obvious something was wrong. That notion of not being able to take off into my own warped sense of "freedom" made me mad but kept me alive during those years. So much for flying I thought.
Today, I fly easily and often. It's all about pulling one's feet off the concrete, opening one's heart to the possible and impossible, and taking off. After successful treatment for a mental disorder that took me away from being a healthy young woman, I began to see the world from a point of view that was less exciting than those nights on the Golden Gate Bridge but, after a while, began to make sense. Slowly but convincingly, it became my new normal.
Insanity is dangerous. Sanity, without the love of beauty, adventure, and the desire to soar above ourselves, can be dangerous as well. Dangerous, in that, it can rob us of relationships and forms of creativity that holds us tightly into ourselves as we sink below the bridges above us.
Let's all prepare our lives for jumping and then ... let's do it. Not into the cold, dark waters below but into the warm, if unfamiliar, places our hearts can lead us.
Here's a poem from my novel about insanity and recovery. I call it, "Shall I Jump?"
I looked down
The bridge is very high
I know I can fly!
I Know I can fly!
The bridge is very, very, very high!
The last time
I tried to fly
I fell onto some rocks.
My body was seriously convulsed
By several shuddering shocks.
It turned out
I broke a rib or two
I really, really tried to fly
What is a girl to do?
The voices were persistent
The voices were consistent
Jump! Jump! Jump!
Get out of your slump!