“Half the failures in life result from pulling in one’s horse while it is leaping.” -Unknown
I’ve been thinking about this concept of following our dreams and going after the life we want so much lately. Going after what we want, and going after it right now. I suppose that’s what happens when we lose people in our lives. I don’t know about you, but I have been flooded with feelings of urgency this past week, the I-gotta-live-and-do-it-all-right-this-second feelings… don’t want to waste a moment… all of which is overwhelming because, I mean come on, there’s a LOT I want to do.
Instead, I channeled that energy into my own Bucket List and creating a class to help other people come up with theirs too. But not just to come up with it, to start living it now. Put some purpose to all this urgency, and not only get myself on the move, get my people going too. The idea of that just makes me happy. My people doing more of what they want to do, and doing it now not later or never.
Of course, no matter how much urgency we feel, or wildness we want to impart on the world, it’s physically impossible to do everything we want to do over the course of our lives right now. What we can do right now though, is we can start. We can take that first step. We can figure out what we want and start moving toward it. The article below is something I wrote quite a while back now, but will hold true forever.
I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it inspires you too.
Blue Skies Magazine, January 2011
Life Coaching Column #9
“Trust Your Ducks”
By Melanie Curtis
I have been skydiving for 15 years. I have jumped at Skydive Elsinore for 9, and have worked there full-time going on 6. My duties there effectively entail jumping with my friends, creating awesome events, training with my teams, and partying like a ridiculous rock star, not unlike Kiss or John Mayer or Weird Al Yankovic. Basically, I am employed to have as much fun as I can figure out how to have, and bring all you fine people along with me if you want to play. Best job in skydiving, right? Right. It totally is. And this week… I gave notice.
What what whaaaat??! You heard me, I’m leaving the best job in skydiving. My guess is that right now you are questioning my chemical balance. Uhh… umm… why on earth would I do that?
The truth is… I actually believe I can have more. Even more than this extraordinary life has already given me. I actually believe that, “it all”… we can have it. You, me, my aunt, your brother, your neighbor, my insurance broker. Every single one of us. Having our cake and eating it… yeah, that too. Lives that brim with joy, and not just a “realistic” balance of happiness vs. have-to’s.
Ok, yeah, this kind of overtly inspiration-y thought is a big one. And yeah, I’m with you, it may be difficult to even consider, much less imagine for your own life, without some idea of how to go about it. My thinking is, we jump off cliffs. We go through the intensive course to learn BASE, we do a bunch of balloon jumps practicing stable exits, we do all the prep and planning to get us through the baseline fears that keep us from just hucking ourselves willy-nilly off a mountain—there’s too much at risk for willy-nilly—we hike for hours and hours over rocks and through thick brush to get to the edge. … Then we jump.
As you may already know, I am the queen of metaphor. I f*cking love metaphor. Metaphor is my best pal who loans me sugar anytime I stop by and ask for a cup.
Anyway, I digress… so what’s your cliff? What area of your life needs a big frickin’ change and you know it? What is that huge scary step you’ve been wanting to take for a long time now, but haven’t taken yet because you’re perpetually trying to get every last duck perfectly in a row?
Funny, in retrospect on my life, every decision I’ve made fitting that bill has ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. A year abroad in Australia, leaving New York for sunny SoCal, leaving big giant investment-banking dollars behind to make peanuts at Skydive Elsinore giving my dream a truly honest shot. Each one I went into freaking out, and each one I came out of with life-altering experience, confidence, and inspiration to motivate me through the next big hike.
What makes it onto your Best-Decision-I-Ever-Made list? Quitting your job? Having a baby? Moving away from your family? Starting your own business? And further, how did you get to, and through, that point of consciously and definitively changing the course of your life?
If we’re anything alike with this sort of thing, we plan, stress, research, debate, freak out, stress out, talk it out, then plan some more before every single one of these major no-sh*t-there-I-was decisions. Why? Because in effect, each one puts our current lives in danger—literally or metaphorically. What if it doesn’t work? What if I fail? What if I succeed? What if I hate it? What if I end up broke? What if whatever else?
It makes sense that we’d want to have things in order, have a plan, have some idea of how things are going to turn out, before we risk our lives. Smart, in fact. The research and processing and lining up of ducks prepare us for every big leap. Awesome. Thank you, ducks. With that we’ve effectively made it to the top of the cliff, we’ve got our gear on, winds are light, and the sun is high in the sky. You planned it just this way, conditions are awesome, and it’s time to jump. Thing is though… once we get up there, no one pushes us off the cliff. A lot of times we choose to putter around at the top thinking and re-thinking our launch, and before we know it, it’s dark and we’re forced to spend a cold, scary night up there alone with nothing to entertain us but the edge and all those what-if’s. Like Annie says, the sun’ll come out tomorrow, and I bet my bottom dollar we reconnect to the positive possibilities in the fresh light of day. I guess what I’m wondering is why put ourselves through that dark scary night? Or worse, rain and clouds and wind stranding us up there for an agonizing week… month… year? My vote… trust your ducks, trust yourself, and go for it. 3-2-1-see ya.* Melsinore out.
(*I actually don’t even BASE jump, never have, and don’t think I ever will. Not my thing, but I have learned so much from my friends over the years, I couldn’t resist it as the perfect metaphor for this topic… a highly calculated risk preceded by intense preparation, and followed by a giant leap of faith. )
If you feel like you need help getting off whatever cliff you currently face, drop me a line anytime and we’ll jump off it together.
Either way, you got this, and thank you as always for reading.
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HOW TO MAKE YOUR BUCKET LIST… AND LIVE IT TOO!
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No matter how much urgency we feel, or wildness we want to impart on the world, it’s physically impossible to do everything we want to do over the course of our lives right now. What we can do right now though, is we can start.