Lovers' Leap & Embracing the TransientSunday, February 10, 2019
Romeo and Juliet. Tristan and Isolde. Mizzy and Tunkey: clandestine lovers who jumped at 1,700 feet.
The legend takes us to the lush mountains of St Elizabeth in the 18th century...
Richard Chardley owned an estate near the southern end of the Santa Cruz mountain range. Mizzy, a beautiful young slave girl, worked on his plantation. Chardley wanted her to himself, but he was contending with someone else — Tunkey, Mizzy's lover who worked on a neighbouring plantation. The jealous Chardley wanted him out of the picture, so he arranged for Tunkey to be sold to a far-off estate, the two lovers to be separated forever.
Mizzy and Tunkey were hopelessly in love. They learned of Chardley's plan and knew they needed to act quickly. One fated night, they stole out and met at their secret spot. Thrilled and nervous, the pair exulted in their union… but it was short-lived. Chardley had almost immediately noticed Mizzy's absence and set out with a hunting team to find her. It didn't take long for the savage party to locate the lovers and a wild pursuit followed. Mizzy and Tunkey were chased to the clearing near one of the tallest cliffs on the south coast. They knew in that moment that they had two options: separation and unspeakable cruelty, or death. Together they ran across the clearing toward the cliff's edge. Hand in hand, they jumped.
An old woman, watching from the bushes nearby, swore they did not die; the night sky caught them in a golden net, and they were seen sitting atop the moon together as it sank below the horizon, among millions of stars.
This fabled cliff is now called Lovers' Leap. Upon it stands the highest lighthouse in the Western Hemisphere.
The spirit of Mizzy and Tunkey's brief yet potent love lives on through a social phenomenon inherent in beautiful, tourism-driven places: the cross-cultural romantic fling. Intense and ephemeral, the spark that ignites between two people — one local, one foreign — is magnified when placed under the pressure of a time limitation. It feels like an escape, a mad dash, a freefall. Something compels you to be together, despite knowing it will end.
The happiness and excitement it brings can be addictive, and the come-down is harsh. So why pursue something with this capacity? To create more of its best parts!
Celebrating any amount of joy that someone or an experience brings to you invites more of that joy into your life, in larger quantities. This appreciation of love and passion instantly elevates your spirit and, like a lighthouse on a cliff, you subconsciously beckon to more opportunities for sublime happiness.
We meet each other exactly when we need to. Mizzy and Tunkey brought one another moments of bliss and safety under dire oppression. The traveller is the perfect person with whom to spend transient rapturous days; with him he brings temporary escape and winks of encouragement. Our foreign flames can act as messengers, offering us things we didn't know we were missing, and reminding us of what we'd forgotten we needed and wanted.
But what about that nagging question: what if? What if this fling could have been more, given time and better circumstances? What if by letting this person go, you're also relinquishing something that has the potential to be infinitely fulfilling?
It doesn't matter. Revelling in the delight experienced will create more of it, if you let it, one way or another.
It often feels like destiny when someone materialises in your life at a serendipitous moment, but it doesn't always mean that this person is the answer to your question. Maybe they've come to bring a smile to your face or a moment of euphoria in a time when you need it most. Or perhaps they're here to break up the monotony of a long drag of repetitive work. Maybe this person appeared to remind you that magic exists, and all that's required of you is to be open to it.
Mizzy and Tunkey lived in different times and under different circumstances, and the brevity of their love didn't make it any less real. They celebrated it as best they could, while they could, until the very end. And we, as homage to them, may do the same. No matter how fleeting, exult in the excitement and delectation and love we share while it's here. When it's not, thank it for what it gave our spirits and know that more is coming, tenfold.
When it does, leap — the net will appear.
Didi Beck is a Jamaican artist, storyteller and psychic. She explores the richness of the unseen through writing, imagery and tarot. Watch the Beyond the Veil video series on Didi's Instagram IGTV (@ didi_beck) and YouTube channel. She's available for tarot card readings, and would love to hear your favourite folklore and duppy stories at didibeck.com/contact.
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login