The Scary Truth… Taking a Leap

There are times in our lives when we know that we are being called to something bigger. We’re called to step up, show up, let go, move on, move out, move in, you name it…there are as many ways of saying it and experiencing it as there people on the planet and experiences in life. We are being called to grow in some way.

Sometimes we can see it and we know it’s coming. We can feel something is stirring and shifting inside. We feel it in our guts, our viscera. My name for it is Divine Unrest.

Photo by Chris Blakeley

Sometimes it comes upon us all of a sudden. Like a toddler, we wake up one morning and find that, metaphorically speaking, our favorite clothes are too small. Our bellies are exposed and our pants are too short and tight around the waist. Life just isn’t comfortable in the same way anymore. Often outward changes go with this imperative to grow…we change jobs, careers, leave relationships or move to a new place.

Sometimes this change is thrust upon us in the form of a crisis of some sort; a divorce, the loss of someone we love, an accident, an illness. Sometimes it is simply our own need to be more of who we truly are, to fill out our own spaces and crevices more completely that calls us to the brink.

Every time we begin something new, step into the realm of the unknown we are accompanied by fear. We move into this thing called transition…it is the empty void in between, the long hallway, the empty elevator. Transition is when we move from one life, one identity, and one place to another.

About twenty years ago, when I was in the middle of the single biggest transition of my life, I came across a story in Danaan Parry’s book Warriors of the Heart. He talks about the leap like this…

We are happily swinging away on our very own trapeze. We feel confident and sure. We’re comfortable and feel in command. Then one day we see an empty trapeze swinging in the distance out in front of us and we know with our deepest being that it belongs to us.  We also know that in order to get to it we have to let go of the trapeze we’re on.

We want more than anything sometimes to be able to continue to keep a firm hold on the trapeze we’re on before we grab the new one. We simply can’t. It’s just not possible. We worry that we’ll fall. We’ll strike the sharp rocks below. We’ll be annihilated.

Here’s the scary truth… it simply doesn’t matter how many times we take the leap, and it’s often…. we get scared. We feel fear, exhilaration, doubt, and excitement in turns or all at once. This is where we can wake at 3 am with that darn committee arguing inside our head, visions of disaster flashing. It’s when we can start to wonder what the heck we were thinking anyway, or we hear our mother’s voice wondering it for us.

In turns we  reason with ourselves that we’ll be fine or get stern and tell ourselves we’ve got to! We have to! Now! Just do it already!

Sometimes the leap can feel as serious as life and death. Even when it’s our own heart and soul longing for the new life, new thought, new place, new groove, even when we hear the voice of God, Inspiration, Deepest Self, we feel afraid. We doubt. We question.

It doesn’t make any differnce  how many times we’ve made it across, how many times we’ve taken the Big Leap, it always feels like we’ve never done it before. Fear let’s us know something important is happening. It says, “Pay attention!” In this case it’s telling us we are in danger of shifting the status quo.

And finally, inevitably we make the leap. We’re flying…in mid-air. Often after we make the decision and let go it’s still a while before our hands are firmly planted on the next trapeze…even longer until we are confident and comfortable with the swing and rush of the new bar.

Most of us hurry to grab the bar, feel the certainty of its solidness under our hands again. Being in the in between places is uncomfortable and most of us want to rush though them, to feel settled again and secure.

But what if those in between spaces are the juiciest places? What if this no-mans land is when we can really ask the deeper questions?  I believe that these in between places are some of the richest and most fertile in life…they hold wide opportunities for the deepest deep growth and change.

What if the next time you find yourself in this transition zone, you took the time to question every assumption you have about life?

What if you took some time to breathe deeply and rest in the midst of the headlong rush?

To enjoy the sense of weightlessness and stretch?  

To dig even deeper into what would bring you joy and satisfaction of the inner glow kind?

What would be freeing to leave behind?

What thoughts, possessions, relationships, stories can be dropped in the leap?

How much lighter can you get as you move into this new space, new swing?

Not long after that big transition in my life I came across a small ceramic rabbit hanging on a trapeze. In my personal cosmology rabbits represent fear.This story about the trapeze came instantly to mind. I bought the rabbit and it hung for many years from the rear view mirror in my car. One day it broke and I reverently let it go.

Then a couple years ago, just before I shut down my business of twenty-some years to follow my bliss, a dear friend and I were having lunch in Portland. She excitedly showed me a purchase she’d just made…it was that same sweet flying rabbit. I shared my story. A few weeks later the rabbit’s brother showed up in my mailbox as a surprise. Today it hangs in my bedroom and is a beautiful reminder that leaping into the void is necessary and scary…and we do it anyway…again and again because that empty trapeze is ours and we know it.  We keep fulfilling our need to continue stretching and growing.

What’s the trapeze you’re seeing in the distance?

What would feel good to questions and let go of, as you leap?

How do you settle into the void?

I’d love to know.

{ 3 comments }

gia November 4, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Sometimes the only way to let go is when the pain of still hanging on to the old trapeze is greater than the pain/fear of letting go. That was my old MO. Learning through fear happens but it was often an “ouch!” kind of experience. Now I’m practicing letting go while in the joy of love and trust. Some days I’m better at it than others. : )

Great post!

Valli April 24, 2012 at 6:12 am

Yes, why is it that it never gets easier and why is it that one must let go of the old trapeze in order to grab the new. A leap of faith seems to be required.

Thank you

Melani Marx May 8, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Yes, a leap of faith! And a decision to trust. That’s always a choice I make. That it will all be ok in the end. That all is well. It’s better for my health! And in the midst of uncertainty the small daily rituals we do help us to keep moving forward, create a touchstone. A daily walk, or breakfast at the same time. Thanks and take good care, Valli!

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