Taking a Flying Leap


“You remember the old Roadrunner cartoons, where the coyote would run off a cliff and keep going, until he looked down and happened to notice he was running on nothing but thin air?”


“Well,” he says. “I always used to wonder what would have happened if he’d never looked down. Would the air have stayed solid under his feet until he reached the other side? I think it would have, and I think we’re all like that. We start heading out across this canyon, looking straight ahead at the thing that matters, but something, some fear or insecurity, makes us look down. And we see we’re walking on air, and we panic, and turn around and scramble like hell to get back to solid ground. And if we just wouldn’t look down, we could make it to the other side…”

–Jonathan Tropper,The Book of Joe

I was sitting at my dining room table, trying to decide what to share in today’s post. My recent reflections have been, indeed, reflections of my state of mind – serious, heavy, full of the weighty feel of winter. I was attempting to think of something to say today that would lighten the mood a bit, but I was coming up empty-handed.

Then, I happened to look up and see the little painting (in the photo above) that my sister, Gwen, gave me for Christmas. When I got home from the holidays in New Mexico, I put the painting in the little niche in my dining room, where it resides with angels and saints, a diminutive ceramic creche, a glass charm against the evil eye. And I promptly stopped noticing it until now.

The woman silhouetted in the painting is leaping – with abandon and joy, it seems — across a chasm. She is looking ahead, at her goal, not down at what is or is not currently beneath her feet. Does she know, I wonder, what lies ahead? I doubt it – it seems clear that this is a leap of faith. Faith that she’ll land safely on the other side. Faith that the choice to leap was the right one. Faith that the time for leaping had arrived. And faith that, whatever awaits on the far side of the chasm, will be worth facing and taking the leap.

Faith is what I’ve been forgetting to cultivate in this dark winter. And in so doing, a joyful spirit is what I’ve imprisoned in anxiety and fear. The overwhelming to-do list I’ve written with my obsessive thinking lacks both faith and joy – I have been thinking of everything as something I have to do (even time with loved ones has been relegated to the status of “onerous chores”) rather than as something I choose to do – or better, as something I am privileged to do.

I am reminded of what Brene Brown says in The Gifts of Imperfection about resilience: “Feelings of hopelessness, fear, blame, pain, discomfort, vulnerability, and disconnection sabotage resilience. The only experience that seems broad and fierce enough to combat a list like that is the belief that we’re all in this together and that something greater than us has the capacity to bring love and compassion into our lives.” (my emphasis)

So here’s to cultivating resilience: to leaping forward without looking down, to releasing a joyful spirit from the gloom of winter, to celebrating connection, and to actively practicing faith.

8 thoughts on “Taking a Flying Leap

    1. MRB: I know this is true. But I get so afraid that my wings will act like a defective parachute and not open. It helps A LOT to have friends who know my fears and still see me as capable of moving forward. I love and appreciate that about our friendship.

  1. Boy Jen, this one spoke to me today. Thank you.We put our home on the market Monday. I am leaving the home I raised my children in and loved my neighbors who are close friends. We are doing this to embark on a new adventure in the city with condo living. Still unknown as to where we are going as we haven’t found a place yet. Our new adventure needs a BIG leap of faith! Thank you.

    1. Wow, Kathe! That IS big news! I am sure you and Steve will build a wonderful new life that incorporates all the people who are so special to you. I just finished reading Paula Coelho’s “The Alchemist”. At one point the main character, a young man named Santiago, finds himself in a country on a new continent, not speaking the language and feeling very alone. He reminds himself of his reasons for leaving his home, and he starts to feel more confident: “He looked around at the empty plaza again, feeling less desperate than before. This wasn’t a strange place; it was a new one.” I will be thinking of you two and hoping you find a great place and ongoing happiness 🙂

  2. Right on the money. 🙂 I’m reading a Brene Brown book right now – that lady knows her stuff. I also just realized that faith and trust is where it’s at – and how different things feel with those elements missing. I like where you’re going!

  3. Love this post and the quote that started it. Sometimes I look at my life in terms of the Coyote and the Roadrunner. I can never decided if I’m chasing after something (Coyote) or running away from something (Roadrunner). Sounds like I may have a post in the making here.

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