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.