Friday, July 3, 2015



It was like a scene from a movie.

After crawling up a rickety ladder up the side of the left tower, I creeped into a dark doorway leading inside of the repurposed cooling tower. I turned around as my friend crawled in after me, then slid across a catwalk grinning ear to ear.

We were about to free fall.

After being hoisted up to the top of the inside of the tower in a cherry red steel cage, they lowered me slowly down through the open floor of the metal box by one single cable. The operator smiled, and completely disconnected the cord. You just fall.

It feels like forever. All you can do is look up at the circle of bright blue sky above you getting smaller and smaller, screaming, wondering if the net will ever come.

It does.

I giggled for a solid minute, feeling like the main character from the first Divergent movie when she falls into the giant, unseen net. The best part was, I still had the bungee jump from between the towers to look forward to.

As the last one to jump from my group, there was no one left to cheer me on. No one left to say, "Tori, you can do this." But bungee jumping had been on my bucket list since around the age of 14, and it was about to happen, no turning back. By now, it had been a solid hour and a half since the free fall, and all my adrenaline was gone. As I stepped up to the ledge, I took a deep breath, and leaped towards the horizon on sheer will.

The first few seconds are the scariest. Then understanding comes back and you just kinda hangout in the air. By the time you start bouncing around you are completely calm and just soaking it all in. I did it, and it was awesome. 

I think a lot of times, at least for me, we don't trust the outcome when presented with a jump or a fall. We can't put our full faith in the net underneath us or the cord attached to our ankles. All that we can focus on is the fear we'll feel right after we begin plummeting though the air.

Today marks one week in South Africa, and already I know I will not come home unchanged. I want not to focus so much on jumping, or falling, but how I can be a net, a bungee cord. I've seen incredible people in the last week with incredible heart and incredible desires to jump. It's not my job to come in and tell others how to jump, or even why. They know. I want to be an asset, a net, a way to empower others. That's a lot of what we talked about this week - focusing development work (1) around people, not their issues, and (2) on what communities have, not what they need.

A successful bungee jumper already has the desire to be thrilled, they already have what it takes. All the facilitators have to do is focus on empowering and coming along side the jumper. 


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