For a long time, I struggled with pursuing my heart’s desire.
I knew the kind of life I wanted to live, but it never seemed feasible or realistic to live that kind of life “now.”
I was stuck in what seemed like an endless cycle of preparation. There was always another course, another teacher training, another retreat, another complementary skill to master before I would be “ready” to quit my job as a corporate lawyer and start doing something more meaningful with my life.
It’s obviously helpful to be well-trained in any discipline, and it makes sense to prepare carefully, but it can easily become a trap—a subtle way of avoiding the very thing we need to do in order to make real progress. There’s no getting away from it. No matter how much we prepare, in the end we are always faced with a leap of faith.
I wrote this short story to help others who may be struggling with their own leap of faith.
There is a barren piece of land.
A young man lives here. Every day, he goes to a big cliff to look out at the sea.
He doesn’t like living on the barren piece of land. The sea looks inviting, and he can see lots of other beautiful islands far away in the distance.
It’s also scary. The cliff is steep. He’s not certain how deep the water is. Would he survive the jump? Sometimes the sea looks rough. Would it be too difficult for him to swim? He fears he might drown. He doesn’t know for sure what those other islands are like. Maybe they are worse than this barren piece of land.
Every day, he imagines jumping in. Abandoning the barren piece of land that has been home for so many years. Sailing off to some distant shore, full of life and possibility.
He has heard stories about people who have made it. They are not him and he’s not certain that he would make it. He believes that he doesn’t have what it takes just yet.
He spends a lot of his time preparing for the day when he will finally jump in and make the journey.
He studies a lot. He reads books on swimming techniques. He reads about boat building techniques. He talks to his friends about all that he has read. He becomes an expert on how to jump off the cliff.
Still, he doesn’t jump.
The conditions must be absolutely right. He says that he’s still not ready. He still has a lot to learn. He needs to become an expert on tides. He needs to learn various survival skills which will help him if he ever makes it to one of the islands.
Every so often, while he is up on the cliff looking out to sea, imagining what it would be like, someone comes along and dives in. They are different to him though. He scoffs at some of them: “They’ll never make it. They aren’t at all properly prepared. The conditions aren’t right.” He’s older now—he needs to learn about ropes so he can lower himself safely down into the sea instead of diving in.
Yet more years pass.
He’s now an old man. One morning, as he’s sitting on the edge of the cliff, it dawns on him…it’s too late. He realises that he won’t ever jump. He tells himself that he never really wanted to jump in the first place. Overall, life on this barren piece of land has been okay.
A young child walks up beside the old man, peers over the edge, smiles, and jumps off the cliff. There is a splash down below. The young child surfaces. He struggles at first. He’s clearly not an expert swimmer, but he manages to stay afloat…because he has to.
By the time the sun sets, the young child is just a small speck in the distance.
The old man goes home.
I didn’t feel at all “ready” when I took my own leap of faith.
I was scared and apprehensive, but I also recognised that life was passing me by. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life.
I asked myself, “What am I waiting for? If not now, when?” I imagined myself as an old man full of regret, never having taken the risk, never having been true to myself, never having confronted my fears. No matter what, I didn’t want to end up like that old man.
Not everything has gone smoothly since then.
Like the young child in the story, I’m not an expert swimmer, and I still struggle with doubt and fear from time to time.
Sometimes the ocean is rough, and I know that there will always be ups and downs. At the same time, I have uncovered skills and resources I never knew I had. Opportunities I never would have expected have come my way.
We are all capable of so much more than we can possibly imagine.
Sometimes, all it takes is a leap of faith.
Author: Barry Lee
Image: Author’s Own
Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Copy Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Social Editor: Khara-Jade Warren