Wednesday, July 22, 2015
On the Threshold
There have been times in my life when I feel the glimmer of change, like a wind ruffling my back, ready to shunt me forward in a great sweeping push. In those heart-racing moments of recognition, I look down and realize my toes are hanging over the precipice. It is a long, long, long way down, with jagged rocks and bristly cactus—the kind I'm not even tempted to touch to see how spiny it is; looking at it alone is like a laceration. Oxygen comes in gulps, sweat beads on the brow. This is legit stomach in knots, legs like spaghetti fear.
But on the other side of fear is freedom.
The horizon catches my eye and time does me a brief favor. In this moment I realize I have one of two choices: I can fly or fall. If the latter, the landing is going to hurt, bad. But after doing this thing called living for a while I realize I'd rather not have dirt in my mouth and prickers in my tuckus. I'll get up, brush off, and then keep going. In this instance there's the comforting thought that I tried and maybe I'm better suited for terrestrial life or the world aquatic.
However, time resumes. I have to spread my arms and... leap. And I may flap and flail for a notch or two, but then I get the rhythm and the view... It is stunning. It was worth the risk and the feeling of the air moving across my skin, in my hair, drinking it in, it was so worth the risk. It is freedom.
Don't get me wrong. The paragraphs above are metaphor. Do not actually jump off anything. I saw a documentary on base jumping the other day and oh-my-&*$#@^! that is some insanage. I'm talking about the threshold place when we've had enough of the 9-5, or the job we thought was the match for us ten years ago, or the relationship that will not jump start no matter how many times we try rescue breathes, or the bleak town that brings us down, down, down.
I've been on the threshold, of varying degrees, multiple times now and it always requires courage. To paraphrase John Wayne, courage is being afraid and taking the leap anyway.
In my late teens I took a huge risk, I've done the same as a parent and as a creative. There are times in our lives when courage is as quiet as a breeze or as strong as a storm. There are times when we don't think we can, but we do and we are affirmed by the liquid feeling of liberation. Or we miss the mark and the fun, the experience was in the attempt.
There are times when we try and fail. I don't take the standard definition of failure to mean, "being unsuccessful in achieving one's goal." To me, failure is not pursuing one's goal. Putting it off for another day, month, year, lifetime. Occasionally, the timing is off and we're asked to be patient, but other times the option is do it, try at least, or else be miserable. If you've been there, you know what I mean. But when in the place of patience, be assured the heart's desire is honest and clear, the threshold will appear.
Although, it can happen, when we move past the threshold, the outcome, where we touch down might be harder or bleaker or not what we expected. That's when we pause, take an inventory of what we learned, and adjust our coordinates.
When I set out in indie publishing, I figured the ship for traditional publishing had sailed, and I was okay with that. I set my sights on putting out my books my way. It was scary. It was risky. It was, white knuckles in my mouth, drawing blood.
Little did I know the threshold would appear again in the form of a publisher and a book I'd written years previous and all-but shelved. I'd already put myself out there in the writing world, but this was another animal, whereas being an indie author felt a little like the wild west, I felt like I was walking into a tea parlor in muddy cowgirl boots. And they weren't the kind where I could click the heels and land somewhere called home.
Thresholds call us to expand, to sail to new shores, uncover and explore aspects of ourselves, treasures, and grow and grow and grow some more. It is not for the faint of heart. It is not a part-time, do-it-when-I-feel-like-it kind of thing. Thresholds are hardcore. So if you're in, you're in. You're on the edge, big leap, I don't know if I got this, but I gotta got this!
Then when we're there, soaring, sometimes we come up against air currents, vectors disguised in "I don't deserve this goodness," or "I'm not worthy" or "when is the disaster going to strike/other foot going to drop?" Unfortunately, those myths of upper limits that we've learned or told ourselves aren't wrapped up in concise sentences that are easy to dispel. They come in the form of self-sabotage, in feeling inadequate, or telling ourselves it is too hard. And what do we do? How do we overcome or part the veil of a lack-mentality? More work. More courage. More of you. But the good news, we've got the juice, what it takes.
But even those of us in muddy cowgirl boots (mine have purple and gold feathers) deserve what we've worked for and even what we've been given.
Because it is an opportunity to do our best, to be our best, to shine in all our dusty, muddy glory, to share the gifts we have however big or small, or for now, just a smile. The threshold is a call to action. It is a test to see just how much guts we have. To strike out and live the best version of our lives because after we take the leap, there is no going back.
And when we're flying, when we land, when we reach the other shore, we'd all do well to honor our journey, to stand tall with pride, to acknowledge our achievements. To give ourselves a pat on the back, a rah, rah, rah, and a round of applause.