Jump, and the net will appear.
I’ve always loved that phrase. And I’ve always believed in it. I’ve seen living proof of it, time and time again.
One of my friends sold everything she owned and moved to Calgary and then to Toronto with a man she’d been dating for a short time. She enjoyed the most incredible television career that included covering the political scene in Ottawa, and now she owns her own communications business and is married to the same man. They have two adorable little girls.
Another friend sold everything she owned, traded in her sensible car for an ugly old van, and set off on a year-long road trip across the United States with the man she thought was the love of her life. The relationship didn’t last, but her spirit of adventure thrived. After the break-up she moved to Africa, where she helped local women sell their handmade beauty products at a fair price.
And then there’s my own personal hero, who–right after graduation from a college journalism program–scraped together all the money she had and flew across the world to cover the fall of the Soviet Union, with the hope that she’d find:
- someone with a camera who was willing to work with her; and
- someone who was willing to buy her work.
She found both.
Maybe we just never hear the stories of people who take incredible risks and fail spectacularly, but everyone I know who took a big chance never once regretted it.
Why am I afraid to take the leap that will change my own life?
As many of you know, I lost my best friend to a car accident when I was seventeen years old. You never expect to lose your best friend, and certainly not at that age. It was a senseless, tragic, completely avoidable accident, and it changed me forever. Since then, my life has been grains of sand rushing through an hourglass. I’m so conscious of the fact that those tiny pearls are trickling through my fingers and I am powerless to stop them. Worse yet, none of us has any idea how much sand we have left.
Every day we put in time, every day we punch a clock, every day we put off our goals so we can watch television or do something else mindlessly numb is another day lost when we could be actively living our dream. I know this, as sure as I know that someday I will no longer have a choice.
So why do I hesitate? Why do I insist on playing it safe, when playing it safe never got me anywhere I truly wanted to be? Why is it all about amassing a certain amount of money, when I know, deep down, that no amount of money will ever be enough to get rid of my fears? What am I so damn afraid of?
After all, what’s the worst that could happen?
And could it be any worse than living a lie for the next ten or twenty years and saying, “I was so young then. I wish I would have taken that chance….”
I’ve always lived contrary to my family. My parents taught me to never make waves, live as your neighbours do, be cautious of what other people think…
I remember when a cousin of mine was planning to backpack through Europe in the 1970s had just left on her adventure. My relatives discussed her as though they were mourning her passing, “She’ll never be the same. They say that traveling like that changes you.”
Right then I decided I wanted to be changed forever. By the mid 80s I was on my first solo adventure living on a kibbutz in Isreal. I’ve never looked back.
My parents still shake their heads at pretty much everything I do – buy an old house in the city centre (when I could be living in a “nice” house in the suburbs); go to university (all those years of earning potential lost!); my passion for social justice (just worry about yourself, nevermind everybody else); etc.
It’s really hard sometimes. Being true to who I am means constantly disappointing my parents, which they freely let me know about. But, I have to admit, I’m happy. I’m living the life I have always dreamt about. If I died tomorrow, God forbid, there is absolutely nothing I would regret, and that’s worth everything.
You have to trust yourself and be true to who you are, even if that means being “different”. That takes courage, but everyone has a role to fill and a gift to offer – easier for some, harder for others. In the big picture, I don’t really think it’s about you and your regrets or dreams, it’s about the mark you leave on the world and the difference that you make. If you feel there are things you really feel need to do, it may be fore a bigger purpose than you realize…
Thanks for your beautiful comment, Angela. What an amazing life you have led…you’ve shown a lot of courage. Sorry it took me so long to reply!