Story Wonders: Yoga and the Cliff

Topics: AdventuresRevisionTensewordsWriting
La_Jolla_Cove_cliff_diving

Once upon a time, I jumped into the air from a board with a fulcrum that threw me into the air so I could turn sommersaults. I must have done thousands of dives in the four years I spent on the diving team. I only clearly remember the one where I hit my head on the board in an attempted double back flip tuck.

I never was a star. Never made it past districts. And I am so glad I spent all those years flipping or trying to flip.

Now, I do yoga in my office next to my computer screen. It’s not at all the same but it has a certain similar charm.

So when I found this exercise about an old woman doing one task and reminiscing about her youth, I thought of the yoga and the diving. Then, I asked my former diving star friend Dara to tell me about her days as a cliff diver in Hawaii to give my piece a bit more pizazz.

Here are the two versions of the story I wrote. I labeled the use of subject pronouns and verbs. Even if you are not a grammar geek like me, I hope you like then even a fraction as much as I enjoyed asking my friend and then writing them.

Version 1

First Person

Now in the past. Then in present.

I raised my hands over my head just like the young woman in the video said. Yoga in my living room suited me at my age with no audience except for my two cats.

“Now, dive down!” said Fiji, the lady on the screen. She spread her arms wide and bent toward her toes with grace.

I doubted the woman on the screen in bright blue yoga pants with a lacy top had ever jumped from a cliff in a real dive.

Even so, I always liked going from mountain pose to the standing forward bend with my arms streched wide. At my age, I couldn’t dive from cliffs in a tropical wonderland.

But I once did.

First I climb the side of the cliff. This is where I begin to doubt my sanity even as my heart beats out a rhythm of joy. The excitement of finding each right foothold in the sharp rocks always wins over my fears of slipping and the pain of the thousand cuts on my feet. 

After I reach the top, I stand, facing the water, looking carefully at where I need to land–away from the rocks in the water 30 feet below.

I push off, stretching up, arms over my head, my toes pointed. Swan dives need a body that stays flat as a board. The tropical air feels thick and the blue sky wraps around me as I pick up speed. I spread my wings then, arching as my body begins to tilt toward the water below.

When my head tips past horizontal, I move my arms back in front of my head, looking through my hands to the water but not directly below. That would flip me onto my back and leave a flaming red burn that would last for days. 

No. The hands go just in front at about a 30 degree angle to the water. 

If I do it right, there is hardly a splash and no pain. Only more heart pounding joy as I pull back out of the water to see my score. 

There was no splash in my living room with the quiet cats, either. Instead, I smiled at the memory and felt a connection to that young woman on my screen who clearly loves her job as much as I once loved mine.

Older woman in mountain pose

Version 2

Third person

All in the past

Sandra raised her hands over her head just like the young woman in the video said. Yoga in the living room suited her now. She wanted no audience aside from her two cats. She didn’t have to worry about Buttercup or Q-Tip commenting on her poses.

“Now, dive down!” said Fiji, the lady on screen. The instructor then spread her arms wide and bent toward her toes with the grace of a twenty-year-old.

Sandra doubted the woman in bright blue yoga pants with a lacy top had ever jumped from a cliff in a real dive.

Still, the living room yogini always liked going from mountain pose to the standing forward bend with her arms stretched wide. At her age, she couldn’t dive from cliffs in a tropical wonderland.

But once upon a time, she did just that.

First she would climb the side of the cliff. There Sandra remembered doubting her own sanity as her heart beat out its joy. But soon the excitement of finding each right foothold in the sharp rocks won over her fears of slipping along with the pain of the thousand cuts into her feet. 

After she reached the top, she stood, facing the water. She looked carefully at where she needed to land–away from the rocks in the water 30 feet below.

Before she could remember how crazy this was she leapt into the air, stretching up, arms over her head, and toes pointed. Swan dives needed a body flat as a board without a bend at the hips. The tropical air felt thick around Sandra, and the blue sky wrapped around her as as gravity pulled her faster. She spread her wings then, arching as her body began to tilt toward the water below.

When her head tipped past horizontal, Sandra would move her arms back in front of her head, staring through her hands to the water but not directly below. That foolishess would have flipped her onto her back and left a flaming red burn for days across each inch of her skin. 

No. The hands went in front at about a 30 degree angle to the water. 

If she did it right, there was hardly a splash and no pain–just more heart pounding joy as she pulled back out of the water to see the score. 

There was no splash now in her living room, either. The cats stayed quiet. Instead, she smiled at the memory and felt a connection to Fiji, who clearly loved her job as much as Sandra once loved hers.

***

If you’ve made it all the way here, I’d love to know which you like best. I can’t decide!

I’d love it even more if you tried this exercise yourself and told me how it went. It’s a fun challenge. Not like cliff diving or even yoga but still something like spreading your wings.

Karrie

 

About the author: Karrie Zylstra Myton is a blogger, essayist, and aspiring author who writes for the wild joy it brings on the best days and the hard lessons she learns about life on the worst. After crafting stories in the ridiculously early morning hours, she chases her two sons, cuddles with cats, and laughs with her husband about how crazy life can get in middle age.

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  • Char March 3, 2018, 6:15 AM

    Interesting exercise! I think I preferred the third.

    • Karrie Zylstra March 3, 2018, 6:18 AM

      I was partial to that one, too, and wondered if it was because I wrote it second and added a few things like the cats’ names. 🐯

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