There are times where we all stand at the edge of the cliff, alone, feeling the stinging cold air of the sea burning courage into us as we stare down into the waves that slam against the crags far below. Rocks crumble away from the cliff face, tumbling silently down to explode in spectacular fashion. The shrill cries of gulls pierce the thunderous roar. As the sun rises, it paints the sky in watercolor swaths of pink, orange, and cold pale blue. Relentless action collides with the stillness of the field behind you, where tall grasses sway in the wind and frosty tips glint in the tentative sunlight bathing them. No barrier holds you back from this untamed cacophony; no fence, hedge, or wall could hold you back if it tried. No matter the circumstance, you will always find your way back to the cliff. Onwards to the horizon you stare, imagining yourself taking a single step into the void, falling down to splinter onto the rocky sand below and be swept out into the frigid water. Squinting against the sharp, November wind and looking out to the endless sea, you feel the pull. Relentless as the waves, every day is the same. Pulled to this edge where the line where one small step can change everything, but you’ll never get to see the outcome.
And while that possibility is tempting, the opposite is irresistible. You feel the physical; the goosebumps crawling up every surface on your body. The sting in your nose as gusts of briny air force their way into your sinuses. Eyes tearing up as you face the cold and emptiness ahead of you. The tensing of your hands into fists inside your mittens to keep warm. Under your feet frosty grass and sharp stones crunch. Your jacket rustles as you dig your hands deep into your pockets, your hair being ruffled into a wild mess. Ears tingling with cold and cheeks going numb you inhale a great deep breath, then turn around and run. You run as if the cliff is crumbling down behind you, racing to eat you whole. Invigorated, you feel your heart start beating fast, the air from your lungs billowing out of your mouth and nose in great clouds, trailing behind you. Muscles stretching and tensing as the world becomes slightly blurry, the tears that collected starting to spread and run. You run from the cliff with devotion, a renewed want to live and breathe and see. You rush towards the narrow path ahead of you, to the bottom of the hill where the sandy path twists left, into the small patch of woods dividing this secret wilderness from the paved road leading to civilization. Each day you run home from the cliff, to warmth, safety, and familiarity. But with a certain solemn determination, you run each morning to the edge as well. Every day you feel the sun, you see the waves, you face the pull. Staring down the adversary that once consumed you and nearly brought you to your end. And each morning you choose to turn home, an exercise in gratitude, and part of the small selfish struggle to survive in this world.