I stand near the edge of the cliff, preparing to jump over the waterfall. The toes of my purple runners hang slightly over the edge, as if they are peering below, assessing the distance of the upcoming leap. They seem to be more hesitant than I am, though I pay them little attention. The jungle around me is beautiful in its natural and fearless way; the waterfall rushes roaringly, collecting power in its basin. The canopy of trees creates what feels like a green dome above the group. The feeling is slightly comforting and also enclosing. Beams of sunlight that have crept through the brush dance on my shoulder, warming my skin slightly. We have jumped in three or four waterfalls at this point and I realize then that I haven’t been dry since the first. It has rained on and off all day, and we just had to “get used to it,” as our guide Shestin had said upon first embarking on the trail. The way he stomped through the mud, embracing fully the sloshing sounds and moist feeling of foot-deep mud, served as a model for us to leave all worry in the van. Now, muddy and wet, my bones met with an unshakeable chill, I recognize that I am happy, and feel completely free. In my element, and connected to the scene. As I focus on the sounds Mother Nature makes around me, humming and roaring, chirping and splashing, and connect again to my instinct to leap off a ledge, I notice that my own mothers voice begins to grow stronger behind me. Slowly it builds, and notes of worry creep into view.
You’re not going to wear that on your neck, are you? She asks, a certain tinge of dis-ease bubbling in her throat. She is referring to the labradorite mala that hangs like a comforting weight on my neck. Yes, why? I ask. It makes me uncomfortable, she says. I spent the last week and a half with my family on Hawaii. We stayed on the North Shore of Oahu then flew to Maui a couple days ago. It has been such a treat to run around these paradisiacal islands with my brothers and parents. My mom planned a hiking trip for just the two of us since the boys prefer playing on the trim golf course over a mud-ridden trail and leaping into unknown waters. The trail requires careful footing, a duck under a tunnel of trees and three passings through rivers and streams.
Will you put it around your wrist please. It would make me feel better. My mum asks. I fight the urge to tell her no and instead, I take a step back from the edge. I loop the worn string of stones around my wrist three times then look at her and smile. With the length of time I’ve worn it, just over three months, the hemp has loosened significantly though the stones have gotten brighter. I note how immediately I lose a sense of comfortability when removing it from my neck.
I once again inch towards the very edge of the cliff. The rock surface is wet and shiny so I place my hand down to a knee-level boulder to stable myself and when I do, the hemp of the necklace rips easily, sending tiny beads of green-blue labradorite into the swooshing basin below. I stare to the pool. Not even one splash from where the stones have broken through the surface. It is as if one power completely dominates the other, the stones insignificant to the force of the falls. If only one splash was gifted to me, maybe I’d feel more satisfied, more comforted. Feel a sense of loss that I almost crave but instead I see nothing, no stirring. No attention is given to the drowning stones amidst the rush of nature’s power.
I close my fist on the remaining stringed beads, then close my eyes and jump, not to rescue the fragments of a loved item but to move on from the moment. I cannot dwell in the moment for then it may have the power to last.
As I swim towards the two women in the group hanging out by the rocks with their Cannon cameras and wide-eyed impressed expressions, I think, I must have been too attached to the necklace, too scared of losing its comfort. I put too much weight on its significance, out of touch with how things are impermanent. Or maybe I outgrew it. Some believe that when a mala breaks it means you have learned everything you needed from it already. labradorite signifies meditation and contemplation. Can you ever transcend past those things? I reach the rocks and climb on the slippery hard surface. Then I bring my palm to eye level and loosen my grip, revealing the remnants. Past my palm I see my Mum preparing to leap. I see her hold her breathe and jump with an expression a mix of surprise and suppressing a sneeze that makes me laugh. Soon she is swimming up towards me, saying, I wouldn’t have done that if it wasn’t for you. She is terrified of heights. I am always impressed with her fearlessness. You’re my inspiration, she tells me and I tell her I’m proud. We laugh for a moment and share a wet hug. She frowns when she notices my palm. Maybe you were meant to let go, she says. I nod in agreement. Maybe it was meant to be given to the waterfall.