3,2,1…Jump! How I learned to Embrace the Present

By Ryan Howsley Tree House Staff

A few weeks ago I got to experience one of the most thrilling rides of my life: I stood in the back of a one-of-a-kind bungee jump truck parked on a bridge that sits 350 feet above the water. This is the tallest bungee jump in North America and it is located just outside of Bend, Oregon.

Leading up to the jump, I got the run down of all the safety guidelines, what to do and what not to do. They put me in the harness, walked me out to the edge, and started the count down… 3,2…. wait!! Jess was filming with the drone and wasn’t yet in the right position, so I stepped back from the ledge, heart racing, and waited until the drone was in the right spot. Once the drone was all set, I get back out on the ledge – heart pounding even harder this time – and they start the count down again… 3,2, wait!!! The guy who runs the bungee jump yelled out, “Put Ryan in the squirrel suit!” So once again I stepped back off the ledge, put on the “squirrel suit,” and walked back out for a third time. Stepping out on the ledge one time is hard enough, but to be pulled back twice {right as I was about to jump} had started messing with my head, but this time I was jumping no matter what. The count down started one last time: 3,2,1, jump! I took a deep breath in, exhaled, and then launched myself off the bridge. The seconds that I spent free falling, everything was silent. My arms and legs were flailing like crazy, but in my head I had complete peace of my mind. I was free and totally in the moment. There were not any fleeting thoughts about what was for dinner or what we were going to do the next day; I was 100% in the present moment and nothing else mattered.

Jumping off the bridge was an “ah ha” moment for me. One of my largest struggles adjusting to this new “vanlife” has been appreciating and embracing the present. My mind tends to wander off into spaces that {when not checked} can become overwhelming. Thoughts like; “where am I going to sleep tonight?”, “will other people judge me for living in a van?”, “if something breaks on the van can I fix it?” This constant internal dialogue of “what ifs” on this journey have hindered me from taking chances and allowing myself to be vulnerable, but in the moment that I launched myself off a bridge, everything was brought into perspective. It was just the bridge, the bungee cord, and me – nothing else. The saying, “Live for the moment” rings so true. Spending time worrying about the past or the future is not time well spent. This isn’t to say that goals for the future aren’t important, but we need to be reminded that the future is not a guarantee – our only guarantee is right now.

At the time of the jump, Jess and I had been living in the van for 6 months and without really realizing it, my head had been all over the place. Now when my head starts to spin I go back to bungee jump and remember that freeing feeling of being completely engulfed in the moment. It has taken me consistent practice, but a weight has been lifted off my shoulders with my newly found appreciation for the present. Now it is just Jess, Uggs, myself and whatever adventure we are on. I am stepping away from “what ifs” and focusing on the “right now’s.” 

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land, there is no other life but this.” – Henry David Thoreau

At Tree House Recovery helps men find freedom from addiction. Our treatment programs create sustainable change for sustainable recovery. Call us 24/7 at: (855) 202-2138

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