That day on a cliff, I understood Mark's wisdom

Updated: Jun 14, 2021

June 26th, 2020


Fifty meters above ravenous waves roaring in the battle with the wind, rushing into the shoreside, devouring floating seaweed, soils and whatever unlucky creatures on their way, breaking them into thousands of white pieces of water. Everything was unsteady. Angry.


I was on a rocky cliff of Miyake Island, about 150 kilometres apart from the capital of Japan, wholly embraced by the ocean. The craggy surface where I stood did not secure my nerves since I knew from the local this ugly, uneven giant rock was the masterpiece of past volcanic eruptions. Miyake Island was basically an active volcano that we were not allowed to hike above a certain height. I believe you would agree with me that unfamiliarly bizarre things oftentimes upset the gut. It was uneasy that I tiptoed bit by bit, trying to secure my mind that this rocky giant was unbreakable under my weight, and so did my friends, eight of us to be precise, tiptoeing, murmuring with each other, while watching out bumps, alert but excited.


We walked for about 200 meters in 30 minutes along the edge of the cliff in the hope of seeing beneath as the subterranean bay was told to be home of countless turtles. Well, I believe I was the first one in the group noticing them. I saw some. We saw some. As the 50-meter cliff barely secured by any fence, a single slip could send us to plummet into the sharp rock waiting below, so we meticulously kept a proper distance from the fenceless verge, but that is why, I guess, most of us could not catch the sight of the sea animals.

Moments of fleeting exhilaration struck me as sharp as the scorching sunlight as I drew closer to the edge. I guess that deep inside my mind, still, a new-born soul was strolling in the dark, aimlessly, promptly lured by a distant firefly, excited, weightless for it had been there for too long. I caught a glimpse of a turtle. Then two. Then three. I got closer and further to the edge, yet remained as alert as my grown soul. My mind was chasing the firefly while my 150-pound body was dragging me back to the safety zone. Frankly, the mind and the body oftentimes barely agree on the same matter.


Stop. Alright. I was at the corner of the cliff, facing straight to the glittering sea of the sun from below. No more, even just one more step. Please! The gravity was irresistible than ever despite all these years I had stood confidently without a doubt that it would one day kill me. It pulled me as hard as the sharp sunbeam raining from above. It sounds crazy, but I wanted to experience it, looking down from above the deadly cliff, to the hungry water. My toes pressed hard on the sandals, and sandals gripped the rock.


Two seconds. I got it. Finally, I think I just experimented with Mark Manson’s words in his book The Art of Not Giving a F*ck. I always felt more unflappable in water than in the air, as I used to be a competitive swimmer a decade ago. Yes, that victorious moment still stays with me till that day, and I guess, when you believe without any doubt, it just becomes the truth. Real confidence. On that day, though, the narrative was different.

Me sitting on a cliff

***I indeed sat down after all


There I stood, in an instant, I thought the water would not frighten me since I knew at least I could swim well in any pool, and at the minimum stay afloat till someone would come saving me if I, unfortunately, fell. I had many friends staying right behind me. I thought the gravity would not frighten me since my feet had been left traces on places in this country, plus as a biped, I had been using feet my whole life. I was never adventurous but always cautious, so I should be fine. I thought I could fly. Really.


But it was too much, too loud, too big. The sun, the wind, the sea and the gravity. Of all events I had been through in my life, none of them withstood the power of nature. I was always a good swimmer; why was I panic by those blue waves? I was always a good mountain climber, why was I panic by this rugged rock? My feet lifted me all the way here from a far land, why was I panic by the 50-meter elevation? The experience seems like a lot, retreated as quickly as I noticed the altitude. It is freaking 50 meters. All those years that I walked with ease just vanished. I felt my muscles shaking inside, keeping myself steady. I think I am indeed just too small, like nothing on this Earth.

All human experience I accumulated did not make sense here.


Maybe I don’t have to fly.

Then I found joy.


Maybe I will just enjoy the moment. Why care so much if I will get something to post on my Instagram or not. The scorching sun is pleasing. The blowing wind is salty. The sea is glittering. Let just forget all the big moments for a while.