Growing wings on the downdraft


A loved one once told me that I regularly jump off the metaphorical cliff and figure it out on the way down.

Damn straight I do.

You know why?

Because it took me a few decades in life to learn I could grow wings on the downdraft.

As a child, I was schooled by careful parents, cautious teachers, to account for every eventuality before I acted.

The loved one who commented on my cliff diving is a stellar student of their teachings. And she can’t get a thing done to save her life. At least, not anything life changing. She has been pondering and weighing choices for decades. And I am sure she will be doing the same years hence.

That’s not why I’m here.

After years, as a child who stared down the same cliff others flew off of, there I was still standing on the grassy launch pad. The scenery had not changed. Neither, really, had I. It was a safe, but miserable, feeling.

Much later in life, I was pushed off the cliff by a downdraft or two. Despite all my plotting, my planning, my calculations, I was not prepared. By the time I landed on solid ground, I was more than prepared—I was seasoned. And the only reason I did not land with a sickening thud in a crumpled heap was this: I grew wings on the way down.

Put more plainly: When forced into a situation that felt terrifying, I had to learn as I went. Develop new survival skills. None of my “preparation” had truly prepared me—a fact I did not realize until I was free falling. But the wings came.

I have to exercise patience with the many loved ones in my life who ponder ad nauseam. They plot and plan from the safe confines of a life they have outgrown—miserable, yes. But they are willing to accept the misery for the comfort of “safety.” I have to sit on my hands and bite my lip rather than say, “Rare is the life that escapes high winds. Here you stand, on the cliff where we all stand at one point or another. Either jump when the wind is right or risk being swept off by a downdraft.”

I now jump when the wind is right. No less terrified. No less uncomfortable that I have to do it. Slightly wiser, though, for my previous travails.

When life says, “Jump or be pushed,” the wisest among us know the wings will come.


Always jump.



46 Comments Add yours

  1. b. breazeale says:

    Ohhh, I so love finding a kindred spirit! This is so relevant to what is happening in my life right now! If you have some time, read “Masters of our fate” I recently posted…I think you will appreciate it. It’s a bit long winded and will seem not to apply, so skim down to the ‘Eistein’ Part…I know, again, sounds random..theory of relativity 😉 I love your blog, love your writing! Thank you for being brave and leaping!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for stopping by-and for the kind words :-). I will be sure to check out your post! Kindred spirits always welcome :-).

  2. I’m late to the party again Kristine.
    I can hear the courage and exhilaration that this lifestyle choice sparked in you. I don’t have nearly as much experience, living “out loud,” especially when it’s scary. However, those rare occasions I’ve mustered the courage to be both spontaneous and INTENTIONALLY bold, those are the experiences I’ll cherish.
    Thanks for reminding us that sometimes, it’s best to leap before we look.

    1. candidkay says:

      It’s true, right? The intention matters. That’s the sweet bit. Thank you for the thoughtful comment–here’s to seeing you mid-air.

  3. I know many people who can’t get out of their own way. They talk tough, but when it comes to making real change, they back off. I learned early, its better to risk failure than settle for tedium.

    1. candidkay says:

      Tedium is a good way of putting it. And yet, I completely understand how terrified they are. Having moved beyond the terror at several points in my life, however, I wish they could see the only freedom is in going through it and coming out the other side.

  4. I LOVE this analogy of cliffs. It is true that one does grow wings and I certainly understand that and agree that is what happens. I know now I do grow wings if I am pushed, although I do not know whether I would take the plunge and actually JUMP though!

    1. candidkay says:

      Your recent move? That was a jump!

      1. Yes, I suppose it was 🙂

  5. marlene frankel says:

    Once again you state just what I has been spinning in my brain. Safe life or living life. Thanks for putting this so simply.

    1. candidkay says:

      And thank you, as always, for reading and commenting so thoughtfully :-). I truly appreciate it!

  6. I call it “stitching your parachute on the way down”….similar idea. I’ve been pushed into many situations I wasn’t planning to deal with, from a manic mother in Mexico (I was 14 and an only child) to my husband bailing after barely 2 years of marriage. But you deal. You just get ON with it.

    I have little patience for nervous nellies….it’s a luxury to sit back and feel scared when others just have to handle it anyway.

    1. candidkay says:

      Are, but I think life throws events at nervous Nellie’s to help them grow :-). I am a self admitted one. Grew up as a very anxious kid. It has only been through life experience and the jumping that the anxiety has finally gone away.

      1. Interesting. Glad it’s worked out well….

  7. If only I weren’t afraid of heights.

    1. candidkay says:

      Me too :-). But it turns out, life is full of them :-).

  8. “Jump. Always jump.” So inspiring. Bold. Brave. True.

  9. srbottch says:

    For me, this was one of your damn best ever. Such a good lesson for us. But jumping isn’t always as easy as it sounds. When my better half tells me I shouldn’t do something because I don’t know what to do, I often tell her, ‘I’ll figure it out as I go!’ Maybe not always wise but generally very satisfying. 👍

    1. candidkay says:

      I think figuring it out as you go is equally as admirable :-). And even standing still is-for a bit. The problem is, for those of us who used to stand still and get stuck! Glad that doesn’t happen to you.

  10. Roy McCarthy says:

    The wings sometimes don’t appear though Kristine and you end up battered and crawling back to safe ground. Still yes, I’d always recommend taking a chance rather than live with regrets.

    1. candidkay says:

      That hasn’t been the case for me, Roy! Thank God. I seem to have a good gut instinct for timing. I think we all do, if we can get quiet enough to hear it.

  11. Aunt Beulah says:

    Such wisdom in this post, Kay. Back in the day when I gave speeches, one of them was about change, it’s challenges, its importance and its rewards. When I was preparing it I found a gem I used to use to end the speech. I’ve written it the way the original had it, but, especially when talking to teachers who are predominantly female, I switched the genders. I think you’ll like it. “Come to the edge,” he said. “I Can’t. I’m afraid.” “Come with me to the edge,” he said. She came. He pushed her. And she few.

    1. candidkay says:

      She flew. Yep. Those are the words I’m remembering today:). See you in the clouds . . .

  12. George says:

    That’s some of the best advice I’ve heard. You should write a book about this…:)

    1. candidkay says:

      It would be a short book:). But then again, those are often the best kind, right?

      1. George says:

        Absolutely. Substance over quantity everyday.

  13. Amy says:

    Life cannot be known. The path curves and twists and climbs as well as plummets. It’s best to live life, come what may, than it is to stand stock still in apprehension, trying to calculate what’s around that next bend. BTW, that’s one gorgeous pair of wings you’re wearing, my friend. xoxo

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! Apprehension–just the word makes me tighten up. You may call yourself a hobbit but you soar!

  14. Always jump…the older you are, the faster the downdraft.
    Good post.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh my goodness. You mean it’s going to get FASTER? Oy:).

  15. cristi says:

    Love. Love. Love this! A great way to start my week off…thanks; I will carry it with me. Oh and by the way, you’re so-o-o RIGHT!

    1. candidkay says:

      Good! We’ll both carry it with us this week:). Keeping each other honest!

  16. Thanks for writing this. I’m realizing the discomfort my husband and I are feeling is due to growing pains of outgrowing a life too small.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, yes. Those growing pains are a peach, aren’t they? I sometimes argue with God–why more change? Why now? And yet, it always leads me to a better place . . . here’s to you and your husband finding yours.

  17. Gauging the wind, being willing to jump and not being afraid to soar above it all — these are important steps toward discovery and eventual achievement. Thanks for putting it all together.

    1. candidkay says:

      I’m not sure I’ll ever get over the being afraid bit but am getting closer to feeling it as excitement vs dread!

  18. Bernadette says:

    It it funny how being pushed off the cliff can end up being the most valuable experience of your life. Great post.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you:). I try not to be pushed anymore but instead to take my cue from the wind.

  19. FSD says:

    Yup. We make plans and god laughs. Gotta go with the flow.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh so true. We are definitely not the one in charge!

  20. I sat and watched Hang Gliders on a mountain side once Kristine…envious and enthralled by their audacity to tempt something so beautiful…by risking their lives.
    And the strange thing was…they all came back with these huge smiles all over their faces, excitedly talking about the flight…and couldn’t wait to go back out and do it again 😀
    My audacity was jumping off a 100 foot railway bridge into a river….I knew how they felt….I even went back up and did it again, many times. Until I miscalculated and hit the pylon 😦
    Now I ‘know’ how much I can fly…simply by looking into many hearts, they take me into my own fears…and I have a very lovely set of wings now Kristine…as you said, they grew on the way down into my own heart 😀
    Beautiful post, and a growing experience if we dare 😀

    1. candidkay says:

      You hit a pylon! Ouch. I jumped off a real cliff into the water belie once. Only once. Have never felt the need to do it again:). Confronting the fear once was enough!

      1. Yes, a very unforgiving pylon Kristine. I’m sure I left about 3 feet of skin on it 😀
        Oh, but the fun in finding it…and the wisdom to jump further out 😀

  21. bone&silver says:

    Yes! But a securely-raised child will be more likely to turn into a leap-taking adult, then someone dealing internally with stress and trauma etc. I think we need a balance of safety and risk-taking… and yes, sometimes the Universe makes us jump before we’re ready, and indeed those feathers grow. Well done for jumping, and compassion for those who won’t, or can’t… yet.

    1. candidkay says:

      I won’t argue with you on the secure bit:). I’ve always said the only time I’ve been able to be a branch instead of the trunk was when someone else was holding the tree steady.

      1. bone&silver says:

        Aww, that’s a beautiful image : )

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