“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward.” Soren Kierkegaard (Kierkegaard & Dru, 2003)
Having spent my early years in Newfoundland, Canada, I remember well the ferocity of the Atlantic Ocean, beating against the rocky cliffs of the shoreline. And there were the birds that flew into and nestled on the barren ledges, hanging on, with their bodies shivering. Some of the birds nestled in places where they would continue to be battered at the mercy of nature’s fury. There might have been a ‘soft place to fall’ just beyond those ledges; however they, like us, stayed, struggled and shivered in scarcity because it was familiar.
None of us really wants to live a life of limitations and struggle, staying safe to the point of dullness. We may dream of a different kind of life; however when it comes to crossing the threshold many of us hesitate or do not find the courage to risk the change. I’ve been there many times, on the ledges of my life’s important junctures, clinging to the old. Fraught with fear, when change was absolutely necessary in order to have a fuller, more passionate life, I moved slowly, tenuously forward to get to the next foothold.
My ‘signature’ way to change is that of the turtle, not the hare as my ideal self prefers. So back and forth I go in a soup of anxiety and fear, working hard not to be overwhelmed with powerlessness. What I know for sure is that once leaving the ledge and risking a jump into whatever path is opening up for me, there is more strength for the next move. It is as if I am able to gather all my disparate parts and feel more whole. After each juncture the fear level is less debilitating, and I am able to begin from a more solid dance floor the next time. Yes, there is fear. Yes, I’d rather stay put, even with the knowing, that to have a fuller life, it will be necessary to jump off the ledge again and again.
Take a minute to breathe, reflect and review your life to this point. Do you remember an important juncture when you decided to face uncertainty with all the courage you could muster? How about the times when change was thrust upon you suddenly, when you did not see it coming, and the tower of cards in your life came tumbling down with nothing in place to break the fall. In such situations we yearn to be back to yesterday to do something mundane, something ‘normal,’ just to find a point of reference to steady us, when the ground beneath our feet is no longer a safe place.
What about the changes thrust upon us that were a long time coming? Just as a rose beneath the winter’s snow is preparing in the dark to give us its beauty, so it is with many changes. We may ignore the small rumblings of external discontent and internal yearnings; however something is germinating with or without our permission. Have you ever noticed that something you thought you had to have to be happier, to be passionate in life, showed up very differently than you expected. When it is time for a new start, another chance, a new beginning, the unforeseen can occur and surprise us.
Let the one sweet exquisite gift of yourself unfold. Break out of the little boxes of safety. It is an illusion anyway. We may feel safe for awhile but nothing stays the same, so we have to get out of our own way and pick a path. Yes, to have a passionate life, we cannot have it all; we have to pick and choose. There will be paths not taken, and there will be course corrections. Choose what is intrinsic to you, your strength and your gifts to the world. If you do not step off the ledge at some point, you will be blown off; how much better to have chosen. Once you choose, do not fill your mind with rumination, remorse or regret as it is a given that you will make mistakes. Remember, most decisions are not in concrete and you can change your mind. Be less at the mercy of life’s storms. We cannot stop the storms but we can be prepared like a good sailor is prepared to utilize the winds as they unfurl the sails. Find the ‘sweet spot.’
(An excerpt from Journey into a Passionate Life a Transformational System, where Laura shows you how to find your sweet spot.)