Sunday, 31 August 2014

Leap of Faith

I remember when I was younger (much younger), we would go up to a local swimming hole and jump off the rocks into the water.

Perspective is everything when attempting to dive into the unknown. I recall the rocks seeming not so high when viewed from the bottom and seeming to be much higher when viewed from the top. The perception was different. From the bottom, my eyes were five feet closer to the edge. From the top, my eyes were five feet further from the edge and the water below. From the perspective of my mind, the rock cliff had gained ten feet just by viewing it from the top instead of the bottom.

The first time I jumped, I remember the hesitation I felt; not knowing if there were rocks or logs below, worrying about how to hit the water, not really trusting my buddy who jumped before me and wondering what kind of wild creature was awaiting me in the dark pool.

I jumped anyway.

Sometimes, when the risk is taken into account, it’s best to just jump. A leap of faith can be one of the more difficult things for us to do. Whether standing on the edge of a cliff or changing careers or moving to a new place or meeting new people, the reaction is similar; hearts start pounding, breath gets shallower, hands get clammy and the mind races in all directions trying to assess the risk. Its when fight or flight reactions are in full force.

Most of the risk we perceive is in our heads.

As we grow older and gain life experience, we start to see things that aren’t there. These things may have happened at another time and place with different circumstances and people yet they seem real now. It’s one of the tricks of the mind. Neurons will fire that have no business firing under the current conditions. Our past catches up with us in the form of manufactured events which have not happened.

And I’m the king of making shit up that never happens.

I remember how much more confident I felt after jumping off the cliff. I was young… perhaps I simply didn’t know better… and I think I was braver then. From the perspective of a boy, I thought I would live forever. I thought it didn’t matter much what I did, it was all recoverable. From the perspective of an adult, things have happened and there is history and the time seems shorter. It feels (to me) like there isn’t as much time to negotiate pot-holes and pylons and make up for what might be a mistake. There is pressure to follow the correct path… to make the correct decision… to take the correct fork in the road.

And sometimes bringing the bravery of the child back to us is all we need to take a leap of faith into the unknown.