Taking the Second Step: Overcoming the Terror of Living the Story of Your Soul
Arms outstretched I lift one foot from the solid ground beneath me and reach it out over the edge. Slowly, carefully, I let it come to rest on the thin rope that draws into the unending expanse ahead.
My insides lurch with a mixture of fear and anticipation. It is the second step that is hardest, I know.
I pause and take a deep breath, and reassure myself. Old dreams have been let go of and grieved. The quiet listening has been done. The inspiration had. The preparations taken. The prayers spoken. Everything is ready for this new adventure.
And now, I stand here, one foot outstretched onto a tightrope in the unknown, wondering, where did she go? Where might I find that courageous soul with big dreams that brought me to this edge?
Minutes pass, then an hour, then a day. After a few weeks of straddling the cliff face, the enormity of the unknown becomes overwhelming. The second step begins to feel impossible. And I am paralyzed with opposing urges to either throw myself forward into the void or pull away and run back to the safety of what I know.
What are you waiting for? A voice screams at my frozen feet. Just jump! Stop being such a coward. If you fall, you’ll figure out how to land on the way down. Even if you crash you’ll find a way to be okay; you’ve been broken before.
Maybe you’re just not quite ready, another voice chimes in. Just turn around and go home. A bit more learning – another book, another course, a stronger community, a bigger nest egg – then you will be ready to let go and step both feet into the unknown.
I’ve played out both of these options before, of course. And while each are appealing and comforting in their own way, this time I want something different. I want something more. I don’t just want the excitement of a new hat; the thrill of a new beginning. And I'm unwilling to turn around and walk away. I want to be fully seen. I want this story to be all of me, and to last.
There is so much more at stake when it comes to actually being yourself in the world. As David Whyte has said - What if you risk being yourself and fail? Then what would you do? Then who would you be?
And so, one foot vulnerably into the unknown, I find myself in this paralysis: distracting myself with the minor dramas of life and making myself busy with unimportant things. Yet, I will not turn back or lurch forward. I am deeply trusting. I am committed to finding another way.
Slowly, as the days pass, I begin to see that my paralysis is actually patience, and that I have not really been stopped. I have simply been moving so slowly my mind with its distractions has not noticed – my weight has been shifting, my foot has been lifting; I have been leaning forward and out into the unknown one fraction of a millimetre at a time.
This morning I woke to find I had leaned far enough forward that I could feel, through the war of stories in my mind and the tempest of feelings in my gut, the summer breeze brushing against my face, inviting. And I was reminded of a post I wrote some months ago on falling in love with my life.
Everything I seek is now.
The words come from a place deep within.
I feel something release. My mind quiets. The old stories fall away.
A wild mixture of terror and love begins to pulse through me, as though the wind itself is moving me, and I realize that my foot has lifted from the solid ground behind me and has come to rest, wobbling and uncertain, on a small piece of rope stretched out into the clouds.
I have taken the second step. There is no turning back now.