One Life

One Life

One Life

When I am asked about why we chose to take our kids around the world for a year, part of my response is…we get just this one life, this one chance with these people we love, this one world to waiting to be experienced.  So, this morning as we were making our way up Lions Head mountain in Camps Bay, and I saw an old Land Rover with “one life” written across the front of it, I pleaded with Jon to turn around so I could snap a photo.  We were on Signal Hill road, for Pete’s sake, and we had just gotten a sign! It was a photo op I was willing to go to battle for, and Jon must have sensed this, so he flipped the car around with not even so much as an exasperated sigh.  What made it especially momentous was that we were en route to the top of this iconic hill so that we could run down off the side and paraglide our way down to the edge of the Atlantic (tandem, of course).  Not only that, we were paragliding with a company run by Stef, whom we had met at our hostel in Goreme, Turkey back in August.  Jon struck up a conversation with this very jovial and outgoing (english-speaking!) chap, and we were so excited when he told us where he was from and what he did for a living, as this very event, to paraglide in Cape Town, had been on our wish list of things to do this year.  Jon’s mom was perhaps the one exception, having been recruited only 2 days prior  – this had NOT been on her bucket list, but Jon can be really persuasive.  He told her, “YOLO, Mom….you only live once”.  And then we saw the Land Rover with our roaming jones motto plastered across the front, and realized that some things are just destiny.

David paragliding over Capetown

David paragliding over Capetown

We were to glide in 2 groups.   First David, Maggie, Molly and Diane, and then in the second group, Vivian, Jon and I.  We are harnessed to the front of the instructor, who is harnessed to a narrow arc of a chute, and then when the wind is blowing just slightly towards us and we get the signal, we are to run downhill, pulling our instructor until the chute catches a draft and we sail off the hill.  There are also 2 “handlers” on either side of us that can run along with us and help us get into the air.  They virtually carried the younger two girls and also were helpful with Diane, who has a bad back and wasn’t keen on running downhill.  Everyone’s flight went off seamlessly and I watched each person that I love sail off Lion’s Head and into the brilliant blue Sunday sky.  I even missed Vivian’s take off as it happened very quickly while I was receiving my last-minute flight instructions.  Jon was to go before me and from my point of view, I saw him take a few steps running and then saw him stumble towards the end of the take off point and both he and his instructor were drug along and rolled beyond the end of the mat.  I could barely comprehend what I was seeing and was so relieved to see them come to a stop before….before what?  It was hard to tell where the grass ended there and the air began.  As I hustled to where Jon was sitting in pain, gripping his right leg, I could see what wasn’t apparent before, that the hill does not end in an abrupt cliff but actually continues to slope steeply down.  He wouldn’t have fallen off, but still.  It was his right hamstring, not the right knee that had been operated on a couple of years ago.  Like a lot of guys, Jon tends to dislike attention of this sort – pity, concern, assistance with walking, what have you.  So I tried to casually talk with Jon about his pain and what happened as he hobbled back up the hill amidst stricken onlookers.  Something about having the instructor step on the back of his shoe, and a minor pulled hamstring, and back on his feet in a week, but he would not be flying today after all.  I was all ready to discuss rehab options, but it was my turn to fly.  My YOLO Mojo was pretty thin at this point as well and I nearly offered to drive Jon down to the landing point, but he and I both knew that was clearly more dangerous than having me jump off a mountain while he drove the van down in his condition.   So, I took off and landed without any issues, except my own distraction and inability to really be in the moment, and was greeted by 5 elated faces.  Everyone was so excited about their flights, which quickly turned to concern when I told them about Jon.

YOLO - Jon's mom taking a leap of faith atop Capetown's Lion's Head Mountain

YOLO – Jon’s mom taking a leap of faith atop Capetown’s Lion’s Head Mountain

A week later and Jon is doing much better, thankfully.  Much to the kids’ chagrin, it looks as if he will soon be back to his old mantra of ‘if it’s anything less than 3 miles, we’ll just walk’.   He was not the one I was worried about that day – as he definitely would be considered the best athlete in our family, and yet, you just never know what lies ahead in this one life we get.


1 comment

  1. MAC

    Jones Family,

    I’ve been meaning to leave a reply to this post ever since you posted it but just haven’t had the time until now. Gretchen – you posted the following:

    “When I am asked about why we chose to take our kids around the world for a year, part of my response is…we get just this one life, this one chance with these people we love, this one world to waiting to be experienced.”

    These words ring so true to me – this concept of “One Life.” And just one week after you posted this, I learned that one of our clients lost his wife at the age of 39 after a two year battle with cancer. She leaves behind three young children.

    We just don’t know what tomorrow will bring, making your statement above even more powerful. It’s so easy to slip into our daily routines and assume that we all have plenty of time left on earth, adopting more of a “someday I’ll ______ (fill in the blank).” But you guys have taken a different approach. You’re doing what most people don’t do and grabbing life by the horns for all it’s worth. And that is awesome.

    Thanks for the continued inspiration, and keep the posts coming. Merry Christmas and Carpe diem!


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