it’s been a long time since i leapt off the high dive, felt the whoosh of my body — bare skin, wet suit — free-falling through air.
it’s been a long long time since i last mustered the courage, flung myself out into the unknown.
but, i was reminding myself, i’ve done it plenty before.
i can do this.
there was the time, long long ago, when my mama and papa drove me downtown. to the hospital, they told me. you are going to get better, they told me. and i did. but not before being scared out of my wits.
and there were long nights in college when i had no clue where i was headed. but one saturday night in the library i decided i knew. and i decided that to get there i was going to snare myself a solid line of straight As. so i did.
there was the night my papa died. and i never wanted to exhale the breath in my lungs from before he was gone. could not bear to take in a swallow of this new oxygen, depleted of the great love of my life at the time, my hero, my papa.
but i did.
not too many weeks after that i picked up a telephone and told a man on the other end of the line that i was a nurse, but i wondered if maybe they’d have room in their school to teach me a thing or two about writing.
he did. so i did.
and then, not long after that, i walked into the great gothic tower of a newspaper i’d grown up reading. i bumped into a fellow who wore purple high-top tennis shoes, and spilled chunks of oil-drenched salad all over the pages, my pages, that sat on his lap. he read along, looked up, said, “i think i can use this.” i let out a yelp. said, “i think you just made my life.”
not long after that, the lady in charge of plucking recruits out of the masses, enlisting them in the summer army of interns, she called me up, called me in for an interview. last thing she said to me in that tiny broom closet of an interview room was this: “around here, you sink or swim.” i looked her straight in the eye and said, plainly, “i’m a swimmer.”
and so it’s gone, over and over and over again.
we forget sometimes, until we need to remember, just how brave we can be.
and then, once we remember, the oddest most curious things start to happen.
once we stare our fears in the eye, once we decide, okay, universe, we’re not going to be bound anymore. not going to stand here, frozen in time and space, thinking of all the things that could go wrong, might go wrong. we’re going to step off this ledge, and try that free-falling move once again.
once we do that, just as goethe, the great german philosopher, long ago said, “at the moment of commitment, the universe conspires to support us.”
in other words, all around, from out of the darkness, folks start extending a hand. taking our shaky one in theirs, and holding it soft and tight.
the phone starts ringing, and people say things that give you tingles up your spine. because how did they know–out of the blue–that you needed to hear those very words at that very moment?
emails pop into your mailbox. and you click here or there, not really thinking what you’re doing, and next thing you know you are reading something that slides right sweet into the place where you needed it to be.
might be that the fellow you married — a guy known to be plenty cautious and not keen on rash, irrational moves, pretty much the life-long grounding rod for your high-wire act — keeps telling you you’re doing the right thing.
might be your 10-year-old boy, who lets out a whoop, pipes up during dinnertime prayers, “dear God, thank you for the bravest mommy there ever was.”
trust me, i’m not launching myself into space. not about to set up a colony on the moon. not tackling a cure for cancer.
just putting one foot in front of the other.
but, for the first time in a long time, headed in the direction of my heart. instead of the way that’s been slow-dripping, leeching the pink right out of my cheeks.
and once i got through the talking to myself, reminding myself i’ve moved my own personal mountains before, i have been utterly and joyfully buoyed by the power, the knowledge, the wisdom, of the universe to make like a marvelous tunnel of hands and hearts, each one reaching out, giving me the nudge, the squeeze, the full-throttle embrace i need to keep this free-fall from feeling like a death-dive.
instead, i am slowly, solidly, catching the wind.
and one of these days, i just might look down and realize i’ve started to soar.
what a bummer. can’t let you in on specifics. not yet. will when i can. but in the meantime, what freefalls have you knowingly, bravely, stepped into in your life, and who were the great good souls who reached out and let you know you were going to be all right, and no one was letting you splat flat on your face? what are your moments of personal courage?
Yesterday I helped my son take one of those leaps of faith. I took his picture to be copied for his resume for a college theater audition today. Another woman was taking her own leap: a story had been waiting in her heart for years, she had put it to words and pictures, and was making copies to send out into the book world. Out of the blue she asked me if I were in publishing or knew a publisher (sadly, no). She smiled that “you never know who you might be standing next to.” So, something is definitely in the air: it’s all these brave souls trusting their hearts and taking the leap. When your heart is true, you can follow it anywhere. And yours is true!
I’ve never been a swimmer, but I’ve jumped off the high dive a few times and hit the water a bit harder than I bargained for. Somehow, I made my way back to the surface and started to swim, but certainly not by myself. I’ve always felt God’s hand holding me up when I’ve worn myself out trying to tread water. My grandmother used to say, ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’, a phrase I never quite understood until I actually ‘ventured’ one day – after that, I got her meaning and ran, skinned knees and all.I’m intrigued by what you’ve shared today, sweet bam. From the very first posting on this beautiful table-place, I’ve secretly (and not so secretly) wished you’d write a book … I would be first in line at the bookstore to plunk down dollars to own it and proudly sing your praises. But, whatever it is, my precious friend – you’re gifted by God Himself to write … and swim. xox
bless you both. bless you, bless you. a friend of mine told me today that the chinese fortune teller she knows said that from january 23 for the next 14 days, all sorts of big moves were going to align in the universe. i’m all ears. xoxoxoxnother b: great good luck to your son. i hear that whole audition/college process is like the regular process on steroids.and pammy: mwah!
i can tell you from where i stand down here that you’ve already started to soar. keep flapping! paddling! whatever metaphor you choose, you are there. not in your rhythm enough yet to take a breath, observe or enjoy–but you are in the heart-pounding thick of it. and, by the way, your wings are brilliant!
my brother david found the source of the above-mentioned goethe quote, which has been feebly paraphrased in contemporary vernacular. the original, as expected, is muscular and dripping with enlightenment. here is the original:”Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back– Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” for a longer discussion, see:http://www.goethesociety.org/pages/quotescom.html
I have a little space in a book shelf in one of the spare bedrooms where I have my “altar” of sorts. It has my collection of prayer stimulus oddities and my prayer/gratitude lists which start and end most of my days. Hanging at the back of my altar, overseeing my thoughts and concerns is a gift from a dear friend ~ a beautiful framed art piece with the following quote: “Sometimes you must leap, she said gently, and grow your wings on the way down.” (Kristin Jongen ~ http://www.soulsoup.com)Keeps me moving, that quote, moving past the hesitancy. You are growing great wings my dear bam.
lamcal, i LOVE that!!!! let me take a look back there and see if i see any wing buds????
I am so proud of you! Fear and ennui so often keep us down — the fact that your heart feels light and happy is confirmation you have decided rightly — listened to your heart and not to the naysayers, be they outside or in. I am so excited for you!!! Pink leeching out of cheeks is never good. Soar into the wind and get them re-pinked in the breeze!
The song “On Eagle’s Wings” keeps coming to mind, BAM. It is not only Him but your cadre of family, friends and readers that are sending our bits of breath to to those little wings of yours. In another vein however, as Frankenfurter says in Rocky Horror, you are keeping us in breathless “ANTICI………….PATION”!!
I’m holding tight!
Juliann of Norwich says, “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” That’s my mantra when I jump off the high dive. Follow your heart, BAM, and all shall be well. Best wishes in your adventure.