Though I wouldn’t willingly come within 100 feet of a bungee jump, I’ve been flinging myself off metaphorical cliffs just about ever since I can remember. Sans bungee cord. Sans parachute.
Not for the thrill of it, oh no. It’s just that over and over, taking a big risky leap into the unknown seemed to be the only way I could create real, needed change in my life. Over and over it seems to have come down to this: leap fast, or continue to die slowly.
And so I did. By my count, I have rebooted my life twelve times, leaving just about everything behind: spouses, friends, churches; cars, houses, furniture; insurance, savings, investments; jobs, titles, identities; beliefs, goals, dreams... I do know what it means to start over from nothing, or close to it. To start over—and over and over again. To jump with no discernible parachute.
And every single jump, every single one, has been worth it. The lessons, the growth, the expansion, the ever-increasing freedom to be myself, have been worth all the angst, terror and loss of those leaping changes. Oh, yes.
So it might seem strange that through it all, I have kept right on trying to stitch parachutes together, just in case a cliff shows up. Financial insurance, like retirement funds or just an emergency stash. Health insurance, like a mostly vegan diet and daily trips to the gym. Even job insurance, like a long-term psychotherapy practice complete with updated marketing strategies. Oh, yes, I’m as fond of parachutes as the next person. And some of these parachutes have been a long, long time in the sewing.
Yet lately, as fast as I get one patched together, Something starts chewing my carefully constructed ‘chute to ribbons.
Especially this last 18 months or so. Every single time finances began to look a bit more solid, another unexpected expense has shown up, grinning, to eat the stuffing right out of any financial cushions lying around.
During the same 18-month period, three widely different and very weird physical issues, two of them life-threatening, appeared out of the blue. No way to predict them or stave them off. Munch, munch.
And right about the same time, my practice announced it needed a serious overhaul… Chomp.
So why in the wide Universe would that be happening? Why would Life be snatching away my beautiful, comforting, soft-landing insurance?
I don’t think it’s because the parachutes themselves are wrong. I don’t believe I’m being asked to emulate St. Francis, giving away all I own and taking to the streets with a begging bowl. No, I’m all for parachutes. I believe responsibly caring for my financial, occupational and physical health is an important aspect of the life-game I’m playing here on Earth.
So what is Life asking of me, then? Just what it has always asked for: my trust.
Yes, creating the parachutes themselves is just fine. What doesn’t work well, though, is being so concerned with breaking my fall that I forget how to fly. It’s not the ‘chutes. It’s becoming so attached to them that if the winds of Life start whisking away one of my cliff-edge insurance policies, my sense of freedom disappears right along with it.
Because it is a matter of freedom, isn’t it? I can’t choose whether or not more holes show up in my favorite ‘chutes. I can choose not to spend my time and energy worrying about it! I can choose to trust more deeply in this silent wind that blows through my life, the unseen orchestration that has brought me here, now. I can choose, once again, to trust the inner guidance and outer synchronies that have guided and upheld me whenever I’ve needed to leap off yet another cliff.
Ultimately, I am free. And so when one of my parachutes appears to have failed me and I find myself on the cliff edge, I can choose to spend my time, attention and energy obsessing over my losses and the possibility of a freefall into imminent disaster. Or I can choose to let go. To look up. And to feel the winds of change gently tickling my wing feathers, inviting me to take a running leap into flight.
Parachutes are wonderful. But they are fall-breakers, not flight-enhancers. I choose to place my deepest trust in the winds of the Universe… and my own wings.