The pause before the climb.
My eyes fly open and I continue with my journey—but then something starts to happen.
Lingering, right now in this very moment, is a feeling of doubt.
At the mountaintop of this lingering stands a red flag of uncertainty—a warning to the wise.
I feel the gravity. All 9.8 m/s of it. I hear the warning, red flag and all. And yet I take my desire for certainty and stuff it into a box. I take my cloak of vulnerability off, hang it up on the clothesline for all to see and I stand there.
Hands on hip, naked, I stand there.
Scared, fearful, uncertain, and unsteady, I stand there.
Someone throws a rock at me. It connects. Was it a rock or doubt? It doesn’t matter. I carry on, daring to remain open. Somewhere high above me flies a dream. I hold onto it like a kite.
I walk forward, feet moving to the beat of a tribal drum. I close my eyes, inhale and fall into the moment. I lean backward, with no certainty that anything will catch me. Yet, somewhere I am landing. Somewhere between the sun and the stars, between hope and faith, between in the inhale and the exhale.
The pause before the climb. My eyes fly open, and I continue with my journey. But then something starts to happen.
The novelty wears off.
Panic sets in.
I want to protect myself.
‘Why?‘ You ask.
I long to cover myself up from this deep scrutiny. When I drop it, all you can see my scars. You can see the places I’ve sewn myself together. You can see the stretch marks, and the wrinkles etched like trenches. I’m out there, and I’m vulnerable.
When you hear people speak about following their dreams they are usually talking about it after the fact, in past tense. They tell you a story about a reflection of a time when they followed their dreams. And these amazing, inspiring people not only followed their dreams but they achieved some measure of success that they are proud of. But I’ve always wondered what happens along the way? I want to get right down into that dirt, into the nitty, gritty pile of specifics.
For me, following my dreams has become a constant practice.
That means it stays constantly an ever-present practice of daring to have to the courage to stay open to everything life throws my way. It’s an ongoing journey that requires me to let go of the reins, even five percent, to make room for the world to meet me at my doorstep.
I can’t quite place it, but letting go is a consistent part of the practice and it’s one that I am terrible at.
Letting go requires me to drop everything, and sometimes when I drop everything I feel naked. That fear of being seen for who I really am can be quite paralyzing. It’s also humbling, because what if there are people out there like that? That thought helps me to turn my practice and my vision outwards. It helps me to stay quiet a little longer when I really just want to tell you where to shove your book.
Something really beautiful happens when you drop everything and share that space with others; you encourage them to do the same.
I can’t quite describe it, but observing another human being put aside their armor and show you their spots is one of the most breathtakingly spectacular scenes of humanity. Every human has that capacity. And it’s so courageous. So incredibly courageous.
You have to be gentle with them and you have to be gentle with yourself.
Humans carry around so much pain, so much sadness that when they approach you it’s hard not to be reminded of meeting a dog who has been kicked. And yet they still approach you. Every one should be celebrated—you should be celebrated! Letting go is no small feat. Even if you let go only five percent, that’s still five minutes of breathtakingly spectacular beauty. Did you know that?
They say following our dreams is like shooting for the moon and landing among the stars. Well, if this is true then dropping everything is like participating in the creation of the stars. Think of that the next time you realize you’ve been vulnerable, or dared to be great.
“Dude, I totally just created like five stars back there.”
When I approach following my dreams as a daily practice, I find that there is no task too mundane for magic. No moment too ordinary.
I try to model that for others, even if it’s for five minutes a day.
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Assistant Ed: Josie Huang/Ed: Bryonie Wise