To Leap is to Live!: Reflections on 2/29

“She’s a butterfly, pretty as the crimson sky. Nothin’s ever gonna bring her down. And everywhere she goes, everybody knows, she’s just glad to be alive. She’s a butterfly.”- Martina McBride

I was 5 years-old, standing at the edge of the community pool, watching as plumes of spray rose around the other children as they splashed and swam. Across the pool, a girl performed an effortless swan-dive into the water from the diving board. Oh, how I wanted that—to leap, to fly, to feel momentarily weightless before the pull of gravity took its hold. I glanced down at the water below, squinting at the arc of sunlight bouncing off its surface into my eyes. Without my glasses, I could barely see the point where the concrete ended and the water began, but I could see the outline of my father’s shoulders against the glare of sun and sky reflecting off the water.
“Jump. I’ll catch you,” he encouraged. I gulped, envisioning broken bones and blood-splattered bricks.
“It’s safe. I promise.” (Sure, dad, and the Easter Bunny is real. Whatever).
“Nothing is going to happen to you.” (Really? I seem to recall a story about an overly ambitious pig with the desire to fly who wound up with a pair of melted wings and a squashed-in face. Moral of the story: creatures without wings are not meant to become airborne).
“You can do it. There’s no reason to be scared.” I swallowed hard, squeezed my eyes shut (because the view wouldn’t have been much different with my eyes open) and jumped…straight into the water and into my father’s arms.

As children, we believe in the miracle of flying—that all it takes is a superman cape and a rooftop to send us soaring into the sky. As adults, reality is the gravity that drags us down; we heed the caveat to “look before you leap,” fearing that, like the little pig who got his wings, we might fall prey to the failure of our fanciful, flighty dreams. Today, I am thankful that I learned to leap, for to leap is to live. Sometimes, I land on my feet with feline agility; more often than not, I cradle a bruised elbow (or ego), for with every leap there comes a lesson.

Nearly a year ago, I took a leap into a relationship (albeit a wonderful one, in many ways) that forced me to think I could have benefited from a few emotional skydiving lessons. There’s a reason why they tell you to tuck and roll when you hit the ground—part of learning to fly is learning to fall. These are not mutually exclusive concepts. And yet the only way to love is freely, without inhibitions, and with the bruised egos and broken bones comes the strength of survival.

“And you know,” my best friend said to me when we were discussing it recently, “one of the things about you that’s really amazing, and maybe a little intimidating, is that in spite of everything you’ve been through, you can still love so easily.” And this is why, when the opportunity to love comes again, I will leap at the chance, because to love is to leap, and to leap is to live.

Question: How did you celebrate Leap Day? Who taught you to leap—in either a literal or figurative sense?


  1. jenyphero said

    So true! To answer your question: my dad. He never held back. He didn’t flat out say “Leap, Jennifer”, but I learned through watching him. And when I fell, he was always there to catch me, dust me off, and tell me to get back out and try again. He made sure I didn’t go headstrong into craziness, though, too. He always made sure I thought of every eventuality, and then supported whatever decision I made, even if it turned out to be the wrong one. I absolutely love this post.

  2. breezyk said

    Great post- I’m still trying to learn how to leap- I more or less always take the safe route in life because I’m afraid of falling… it’s time I start working on that I think.

    • poetprodigy7 said

      My dad was the same, as you’ve probably gathered. Not that my mother wasn’t equally encouraging, but my dad was always the one to really give me a shove to get off my arsse and do things.

  3. I like your writing. You draw us into your stories and help us understand our own.

    • poetprodigy7 said

      Thanks–glad you enjoy. 🙂

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