“Come to the edge, he said. They said: We are afraid.
Come to the edge, he said. They came. He pushed them and they flew.”
~ Guillaume Apollinaire
I’ll admit I’ve postponed posting this week. It’s my last week of teaching my regular classes at ACAC before my sabbatical, and as I stand with my toes on the edge of four months away from my work*, I can feel myself hesitating. As my last class approaches (on Monday at 1045am, for those keeping score at home), I realize that I’m really going to do this.
Do I really WANT to do this? I love moving and I love the people I get to play with. I love the music and the magic. What am I thinking? What will I do? What will I learn? What if it’s not what I want to learn? What if I figure out exactly nothing?
Early in the process of deciding about taking a sabbatical, I was standing in my friend’s kitchen absolutely unable to decide. My body was telling me clearly that I needed a break, and my mind was screaming in protest. I looked at my friend with tears in my eyes and said, “I don’t know what to do.”
She smiled and said, “Leap and the wings will appear.”
I looked and her steadily and snapped, “I want those damn wings!”
We laughed about it and yet, for me, it’s true. I want to be sure. I want to know how it’s going to come out. I want to know. I want to reach back there, feel those smooth feathers and strong bones, and THEN I want to leap.
Of course, it doesn’t work that way. We all have to launch ourselves into the unknown and trust we’ll have what we need to see us through. I actually believe that I’ve been doing my best to shore up my discomfort with the unknown by creating the illusion that my life is known. With schedules and calendars and to do lists (lots and lots of those), I hold the delusion that everything will follow my plans. And occasionally I am reminded that we never really know what we are in for.
The truth is that we are all one phone call away from our lives careening into wildly unknown territory. I wake up every morning thinking I know how it’s going to go, and every once in a while, the wheels come off or something truly surprising happens and there I am, paddling around ass over tea kettle in the waves. I bet it’s happened to you, too, and I bet you can tell me exactly what you were doing when everything went kaflooey.
As I get ready to launch myself into The Summer of The Unknown, I realize I’ve always been there. I’ve just chosen not to notice it. The other side is that our wings have always been there, too. We just choose not to notice them, either.
You may not be inquiring into the foundation of your professional life. You might actually, unlike me, have some PLANS for the summer. And even so, I know there is something for you. You wonder if you can actually do it. Something in your life looks like a yawning abyss in front of you and your toes are perilously close to the edge and you are really not sure how it’s going to turn out. My invitation (and my own challenge) is to take a breath and trust. Trust your body: your sensations can guide you and give you a huge amount of wisdom. Trust your intuition: when I get quiet, even when I think I don’t know, I do know. You know. And trust yourself: even if you’re headed is in the opposite direction of everybody else, even if (on the surface at least) it doesn’t seem to make sense. Trust and take the leap.