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From the forests, mountains, and lakes: Entry 3



Remi’s fear of heights didn’t stop him from jumping off a bridge.


Really, though, he was pushed.


After packing up our bags and rehitching the trailer early that morning, our white, dusty bus (whose name is Brent, by the way) reversed off the driveway of our cozy AirBnB and drove twenty minutes south of Whistler—towards our newest source of adrenaline.

After parking and walking up a forested road, we saw it: the 160-foot-bridge stretched over the glacial fed of Cheakamus River. Rushing water and rolling rapids gurgled far below like a soapy dishwasher.


Since opening in 2002, Whistler Bungee has been providing adventurers with their fix of free-fall adrenaline. Their website flaunts a perfect safety record, and their staff seem to understand the necessary precautions for strapping people to a harness and preventing death.


“Everyone needs to weigh themselves,” one of the staff told our friend Patty, pointing to a scale.


“I came for adrenaline, not shame,” he said with a giggle. (Patty’s got the best one-liners on the bus.)


Shortly after, he was buckled-up and standing on the edge. We cheered him on. He dove off.


There was a moment, he recalled after, where he wasn’t sure if the bungee rope was going to catch his fall. His legs flailed wildly, his arms swung, and his body flipped. Then he bounced up, relief rushing as rapidly as the river below. It was a stomach-churning drop to witness, and definitely didn’t help Remi’s preexisting apprehension.


Moments later, though, Remi stood on the jumping platform, harnessed to the bungee cables, his back to the edge. We cheered him on from the side of the bridge, cellphone cameras pointed, hands clapping.


Sometimes people need encouragement to face their fears, and sometimes they need physical force. Remi had given the instructor permission to push him after a countdown—and that’s exactly what that instructor did.


With a strong push, Remi flew backwards, his arms spread outward, the instructor’s smiling face shrinking above him as gravity did its thing. About four seconds after, the bungee caught him, and he sprung up. The noise of rushing water could hardly drown out the swelling howls of his friends atop the bridge.


It was a moment that epitomises what road trip adventures are all about: moving beyond your comfort zone, facing fear, and surrendering to the gravity of life.


After two of our buddies—Woz and Kimmers—also jumped, we hopped back onto Brent and chugged along the mountain-landscaped road, back towards Squamish to pick up groceries. Shortly after, with a breeze rolling through open windows and a Barenaked Ladies song playing on replay, I turned on my dying cellphone and jumped on a call I’ll never forget.


“Hi Hilary,” I said into the phone speaker, after decreasing the volume on the dangling portable speaker tied to an overhead shelf. Connor was driving, and I was sitting at one of the front seats, with the mountains of Whistler whipping past my peripherals.


Hilary’s a literary agent in Toronto I have been in contact with for more than a year now. She had emailed me to tell her to call her, without saying much more. At first, we spoke briefly about my road trip, about the scenery and the blue sky and the day’s destinations.


“So...are you going to be able to finish your book on the road?” she asked eventually.


I had been writing a memoir about my dad’s battle with cancer during the onset of the pandemic, about how my family came together to give him the best possible end-of-life care despite the varying degrees of distance demanded by the international health crisis. It was a story about pajama dance parties, life talks, and final goodbyes; Hilary, a top literary agent in Canada, believed in the story and my ability as a writer enough to send around a super rough draft of the manuscript to a couple Toronto publishers. I was cautiously hopeful that someone might bite, but I didn’t expect it. Over recent years, I’ve racked in a large stack of rejections for book projects I’ve worked on, and I didn’t think this one would warrant a different response.


A couple months ago Hilary had told me that there had been some interest from acquisition editors she’s contacted, but so many weeks had passed since she told me this that I had begun to believe that interest had gone stale. Then, as sunlight beamed through towering green trees and Brent bounded over the winding road, I was told the words I’d never forget, words that confirmed the realization of my biggest dream.


“I got the official offer,” she said. “You’re going to get this thing published.”


My eyes began to tear.


For as long as I knew books were written by people, I knew I wanted to be an author. But wanting to be one wasn’t enough; I needed encouragement. I needed to be nurtured by people who believed in me and saw the potential that—in the beginning at least—was hard to see.


Like Remi standing on that bridge, I needed someone to push me.


My dad was one of my biggest pushers.


He was the one who made me believe my ambitions were achievable, despite the fear of rejections and falling short. Growing up, he read my fictional rambles over and over again, telling me often how much he loved this character or that ending. He told me he believed in me so often that I began to believe in myself. Two years before he died, he fiercely encouraged my decision to pursue my master’s in journalism, despite the financial uncertainty that came with another two years of school.


My mom pushed me equally in all these ways, but the absence of my dad made this heart-warming news a little more bittersweet. The emotional undercurrent of the book’s content complicated the achievement with a tint of sadness.


Becoming a published author was always the dream. Losing my dad wasn’t.


After I hung up the phone, Lisa, who had been listening to me speak, shouted out the news to the bus group. “Consky’s gettin’ published!” she yelled.


After explaining the details to everyone with a quaking voice, the group erupted into applause and cheers. My buddy handed me a beer out of the cooler.


Wiping my tears, I cracked open that beer and sat in the front seat, looking out the window at the jaw-dropping scenery around me. Tuning into the rhythm of the road, I breathed a little slower, and smiled a little wider. My life had its downs over the last year, but it now felt like I was springing up.


As I gazed at the massive hills of greenery and rock looming over us, I thought about the thrills of the ride ahead. And the joys that come from being pushed to fly.


From the Forests, Mountains, and Lakes,

-Mitch



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