The Flying Leap
Growing up in my family, we had a phrase: “go take a flying leap”, it was a essentially a very polite way of saying “go F&*$ yourself” (other people may have used this phrase, but I’m not sure how wide the usage of this phrase is). However, at this point in my life, the flying leap is taking on new meaning for me.
Now the flying leap is the best way to step out of mediocre. At this point in my life, I face what looks like an impossible leap. I am leaving behind the world education to go full-time into the worlds of writing and brewing. I don’t really have anything nailed down as to how I will go about doing this. I have no idea what will happen when I do this. I only know I have to do this.
As I think about this, two pictures come to mind, both from movies, one is from Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, and the other is from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
In the first scene, Indi is at the Cave of the Crescent Moon, and is facing the second of three challenges, the challenge of faith, on his path to recover the Holy Grail. He is standing on a stone lion’s head, preparing to leap across an expansive chasm. He leaps, only to find that there was a well camouflaged bridge there the whole time.
In the second, butch and Sundance are being chased by Federales and the come to a canyon through which a wild river runs. Butch says “We jump”. “I don’t think we can swim that”, Sundance replies. To which Butch retorts, “Swim? Hell, the fall will probably kill ya.”
St. Irenaeus once said that “the glory of God is man fully alive”. I can tell you, I am not alive in the classroom. I am alive when I write. I am alive sitting in taproom talking about beer. I am alive when I am building relationships. I am alive when I am taking risks.
Teaching was the safe grown-up job I thought should do. At first it was great, and it had its purpose, which was to get me to China, but now it’s time is done. I have kept teaching because I was worried about the people who don’t matter. These are the people, who by the very fact that they try to foist their way of life on me and then criticize because it doesn’t fit, aren’t actually people who care about me or matter to my journey.
If I am to be fully alive, I must walk my path, and currently that requires a flying into what looks like nothing and hoping that the hands of God will hold me up.
Now for me this is easier said than done. I’m not exactly the most trusting guy and I can be quite stubborn. At the same time though, I am fairly impulsive. I tend look only after I leap, but so I have a pretty good track record to back this up. Impulse led me to China, twice. Impulse led me to my current assignment, which has been the impetus for me to get the hell out of teaching and focus on what I love.
Deep down, I want to be like Indiana Jones in that cave, I want to take the leap, the movie doesn’t delve too deeply into what Indy feels at that time, but because he is a classic action movie hero, you can bet fear doesn’t even enter his mind.
I think, however, that I am like Butch Cassidy, jumping because I have no other option. There is no promise of riches and glory on the other side, and very real chance that I will end up a broken and bruised pile on the rocks below. But, I am comfortable with this. This is how it has always been for me.
When I moved to Changsha, I had no other options (Staying in Lincoln and stagnating was not an option). When I moved to Beijing to Beijing, I had no other option (again stagnation was not an option). So far jumping out of necessity has worked out well.
So I guess I just have to trust that someone bigger me than has a plan. I all have to do is decide whether I will spend the rest of my life standing on the edge with my finger in my nose wondering what will happen if I jump, or I can run to the edge, take a flying leap, and see what happens next.
I’m gonna to jump, I’ll let you know how it turns out.