Do you know those times in your life where you find yourself standing at the edge of a large cliff, peering off the edge, deciding whether or not to jump (metaphorically speaking, of course)? Your cliff may be a new opportunity or grieving through the loss of an opportunity - moving across the country for a new job, leaving a relationship that doesn’t work for you, or starting your own business.
It is scary to jump. Let me repeat that: it is scary as hell to jump. To jump into whatever is next; into something you can’t see. At its core, the decision is either to play it safe or venture into the unknown. Tough stuff.
Here is my take on these cliff-toting times. If you don’t jump and turn back, you can always go back to what you know – the same life, the same situations, the same people, the same happiness and the same sadness. You know what you will be getting: the familiar. You know that you will be safe. But that’s about all you know. And this is all you will discover about yourself in that moment.
If you do jump, though, you can never go back to the things that you knew – you will experience a different life, different people, and a different version of happiness and sadness. You know what you will be getting: different. You will know that you are not safe. And that’s about all you know.
But, in that moment before you jump, if you embrace that unknowable truth which lies in the void beneath the cliff, if you accept the emotional and mental insecurity, then you will have an opportunity to discover yourself. To be yourself. To live authentically. To live without fear, without hesitation.
This is only prize for jumping: an opportunity to know yourself. This isn’t necessarily all roses, either – you may not like what you find; what’s more, you may have put yourself on a drastically different path than the one which led you to the cliff in the first place.
But only at this moment can you have this opportunity.
And so this is the point of peering off the edge of the cliff – life is presenting you with an opportunity to shed your skin and grow. And, boy, is jumping hard! Because jumping means completely letting go of everything you know. And this only works if you start by bending at the knees, coiling your legs like a spring, and leaping head-first with your arms out and wearing a smile. Because if you half-ass the jump – if you try to turn around mid-air, reaching for the edge of the cliff in a desperate, last-chance bid for the safety and security of the familiar, like clinging with one hand to the edge of the bungee-jump platform, even though the bungee instructor clearly told you to jump as far out from the platform as you can – you may end up seriously hurting yourself. You will not have a smooth landing.
I can’t tell you whether or not to jump. Ironically, my hands are kind of sweaty as I am writing this – a very telling, physiological reaction to putting these thoughts down on paper; a mirror in which I can see my struggle with my own decision on whether or not to leap.
Whatever you decide, though, just know that it’s all good. It will all work out. It “working out” doesn't depend on actually jumping – not jumping is totally OK. It will just work out in a different way. And that’s OK. There is no judgement here. So don’t judge yourself. Just jump. Or don’t.
Photo credit: Andy Spearling, “Crater Lake”, https://www.flickr.com/photos/41040538@N05/3782483177
Reproduced with permission: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/