Jumping off a 40′ cliff at 71 can be like discovering the Fountain of Youth, especially when you hit the water.
Thinking to myself “if once again I was 40 years old I too would be jumping off that 40′ cliff”. I sat on the rocks about 20 yards across the water from the famous Nauyaca Waterfall in Costa Rica. Watching my fearless 30 something classmates leaping into the water 40′ below, my mind was made up. I thought to myself “Hell yes you can do that”. I had actually made a similar jump 35 years before on a white water rafting trip on the Stanislas river in California. Having just hiked a challenging 4 miles up a steep, hot, and dusty trail to reach these beautiful but isolated falls I hadn’t intended to jump—but then I changed my mind, “why should I deny myself the fun,” I thought “just because your 71?” “I can do anything I put my mind to and this is no different.” I had given my swimming trunks to my new friend Jarrett, after his trunks had split on a daring 65′ plunge from the very highest point—so here I was stuck with only my underwear. “No problem” I thought as I pealed off my shorts and entered the cooling water swimming toward the cliff.
Water splashed annoyingly in my face as I strained on the rope to pull my heavy, water soaked body up the face of the falls. I was concerned that my feet might give way on the slippery rocks sending me crashing to the hard surface below. Two thirds of the way up our guide asked me if I wanted to jump from there—“Hell no” I said, wanting only the top. Finally with one last powerful effort I reached the summit carefully picking my way to the spot from which I would leap. Yes, looking down, I was nervous but honestly speaking the worst was now behind me. I took a deep breath and hurled my body out into space away from the cliff as far as I could go. SPLASH—it was over and I was fine, happy that I hadn’t given into my unfounded fears. “Now that’s how a 71 year old man acts like a 40 year old guy” I satisfactorily thought to myself. Forty eight years later my Marine Corps training had once again paid off.