This isn’t the first time I’ve thrown myself off a cliff.
Proverbially, its happened many, many times. But physically? Only about three or four.
When you’re about to leap, you’re not usually taking the extra time to enjoy the beautiful view, or the feeling of warm sun on your face. Instead, heart pounding, palms sweaty, you’re wrought with indecision, and you’re trying to ignore the gut feeling telling you the inevitable drop will kill you, before whatever it is you hoped to accomplish by jumping in the first place actually occurs.
Navigating hard life choices (be they new jobs, loves, investments, cities, or those ‘once and a lifetime’ type of adventures) often feel that way too. Plus, none of these are presented with an instruction manual. And, even worse?The beginning of things feel hard, but so do the ends! Relationships, Remote Year programs, leaving a city you have come to call home.
But, you jump. Arriving, fresh faced in a new state of mind, and probably more than a little freaked out.
Why does it benefit us to do so? Well, rarely do we have enough information to make an informed decision from a place of comfort and confidence.
We’re the type of species that wants to choose the ‘right thing’ from the very start. Asking ourselves questions ad nauseam, worrying through every perceived outcome, slight or misstep (whether it arrives or not). We usually want to visualize all of those things, so that we can somehow, some way, see the future. Priming the pump, taking ourselves through the motions. Exhausting ourselves and those around us with inane chatter, when we could really use that energy to figure out how to stick our landings.
Oh, right. Then comes the freeze.
You know what I mean.
The moment when you realize “Oh shit! Am I going to throw my body/my money/my job/my connections over this edge to meet the unknown?”
That blood-pumping feeling that leaves your jaw set, your eyes blank and your knees locked. The space where the wind and the encouraging words turn into a dull roar. You find yourself suddenly soaked through with that sweaty optimism, growing cold in the warm winds gently tugging at your power pose.
You start to wonder if you should really trust the guy treading water 20 meters below. You know, the guy who keeps saying everything will be fine. How did he do it so easily?
Then, your mentor is filling his parachute so quickly that you have no choice but to just step off the cliff with him (or risk being dragged along and possibly kill you both, right?!).
Ah, but thats the art of the jump, isn’t it?
We jump to get our hearts racing.
To get ourselves quickly from plateau to production. A small pond to a big one, even with a few scares along the way.
Yet sometimes, we seek out these experiences merely for the opportunity to scream as loud as we can: To let the world know we’re coming, and to give permission to ourselves to feel wild and untethered. We want to look back and think “wow, that was so cool! I can’t believe I did that!”, not to praise ourselves on another day of convenience, of mundane.
Look around you. Life is saturated with people who are doing the easy stuff.
Taking a literal leap of faith is sometimes easier than a figurative one: there’s really no take-backsies. You try scrambling back from a paragliding jump, and let me know how you fare.
Its much easier to develop tunnel vision in a physical environment than a symbolic one.
By not over-scrutinizing all of those who had come before, I found myself harnessed up to my first tandem paraglide without a second thought. I just had to trust my guide.
It was a lot harder to leave a job and friends and move across the country for love, and then leave that newly-made comfort to put myself on Remote Year. But, then again, I was born with tunnel-vision. (No, seriously, ocular therapy for three years…anyway, thats another story).
Now, what’s even scarier than signing up for a wild year working and living in 12 cities abroad with 75-strangers?
The idea that its now month 11. And you’ve become so used to this lifestyle… and that in a month and a half, it will all come to an end.
This time, you’re stepping off into an unknown without your newly-made tribe, and back into a life you’ve so quickly left behind. Where you don’t have pre-arranged travel plans, apartments, or keys handed to you with a smile upon arrival. Where you won’t walk down a side-street in a different country to find one of the 48 people you’ve come to care about and depend on — enjoying a beer at a cafe, lost in a city on their bike, or just walking up with a smile and somewhere to go.
But the leap can bring you energy, if you stay focused, and adjust along the way.
Use your focus to stick your landing.
I’ve stayed up all night to figure out how to invent something that I wasn’t even sure was possible (two years before it became the industry norm, and adopted by the likes of Starb*cks), booked same day flights to beautiful places that I never knew I wanted to go, jumped off cliffs, and went all-in for love.
I’ve realized that as long as you trust the few rules you can’t break (mainly gravity, and the fact nothing ever is as bad as you think it will be) follow the signs, and learn continually from muses, guides and mentors, whoever they may be, wherever they may show up, that stepping off the cliff means something much different than falling.
Mostly it means meeting a strong, steady wind, and a lot of gorgeous scenery. And without even knowing it, you’ll suddenly lean back to find a mentor who has shown up to guide you along the way.
What if I fall?
But what if you end up exactly where you’ve always wanted to be?