Life in Freefall
Life is what happens to you on the way to reaching your dreams. It’s the journey, not the destination that really matters. Of course, you can’t account for the journey, you can’t plan for it; you take a deep breath, close your eyes and go. Scary? Maybe. Depending how you look at it, it could be the most exciting thing you ever do.
Whether it’s leaving for a backpacking trip, starting a company, moving to a new city to work, or taking on a risky job, you’ll always remember the first step, the doubt, the nervous excitement, and the ringing thought of, “just what the hell am I doing?”
It happens to everyone.
The bad news? That thought never goes away entirely; the good news is that in taking that first step you’ve already shown that fear won’t paralyze you.
That doesn’t mean you’re not afraid — we all are — but a life full of guarantees is hardly a life worth living. What’s the fun in doing something you know is going to work?
Life is about testing yourself, coming into contact with new shining experiences and people, and seeing what sort of person you really are.
Look around you. At your life, at your situation, at what’s behind you, and at the big question mark ahead of you in the distance. Is it worth going? You know you’ve already achieved all that’s behind you. Surely you could do it again. But up ahead — that question mark. That big, bold, hairy mess of uncertainty that seems to dancing farther away as you move... it’s as intimidating, as it is tempting. Which do you choose? Just remember, you can never go too far from where you are that you can’t come back and that’s comforting. Every journey has start somewhere.
So zip your jacket, tighten your laces, stretch, let out a yell, and step off the cliff’s edge.
"Buy the ticket, take the ride.” - Hunter. S. Thompson
Getting lost is good
Life is what happens when you don’t get what you want, really. You can’t put the human experience in a test tube, we don’t exist in a vacuum. Sometimes you take the wrong turn and then you take the wrong turn again. Believe it or not, getting lost isn’t the end of the world. Just the opposite, when you get lost you’re forced to pick yourself up and keep going — you can’t exactly go home, jump in bed, and pull the covers up over you right now, can you? Necessity is the best way to face your fears.
"Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer." - Randy Pausch.
Dive in head first without a lifejacket, without an escape route, and you might just surprise yourself. Surprise, that’s the whole point. Finding what you didn’t expect, what you didn’t know was hiding there. When going on a trek through the woods, sometimes you take the path less chosen just to see what’s at the end — it’s the same way with your journey. You might not have planned for a detour when you first set out, but now that you’re here, are you really going to walk by this path like it’s not there? Aren’t you curious?
Listen, no one said this flight would be without turbulence. There’ll be rough patches, so buckle up and grit your teeth. The most amazing thing about getting lost, getting spun around and trying to walk in a straight line, is that you learn without realizing that you’re learning, lessons that you only see once you’re back on the supposed right path. Failure is the best teacher, be wary of skipping her class. When we fail, we not only learn from our mistakes, but take a chisel to that monolith of paralyzing fear in our lives, it slowly starts to break down.
If you’re not failing in a new way everyday, you’re too deep in your comfort zone.
"I have not failed. I've just found 10000 ways that won't work." - Thomas A. Edison
So you’ve been lost, discovered something new, and got back on track. Fantastic. There’s still another test to go. Most people have little problem with experimenting or going new paths, so long as they don’t have to do the same thing again. Sometimes you have to.
There are moments when the journey will slow down, where you need to move slow and work hard for every inch, or even take steps backwards.
You’ve gotten lost in a labyrinth of alleys and suddenly come to a dead end. This is just another test. There are two kinds of people, one who sees the dead end and complain about it — why me? why now? It’s not fair — and the other who shrugs, spits on the ground, and starts to make their way back and around.
"The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.” - Randy Pausch
Dead ends teach you patience, dead ends help you focus on your original goal when you’ve been lost too long. Forgot how bad you wanted it in the beginning? The dead end will make you remember.
You’ll soon realize that your life is split into two parts: before you stepped off the cliff, and after. I’ll say this now (I should have said it before): once you’re in freefall you never really have another fully comfortable moment, you never feel the earth under your feet again for too long, and that’s okay. Freefall, the journey — it’s addictive. Your expectations have no limit and so you expect nothing. You wake up every morning comforted by the thought that so much can happen in this life, you’ll never hit the bottom, your movie will never end. You sit up and stretch, unsure, happy, confident and ready for any surprises the world or you yourself might have in store.
Who knows? Are you ready?