Everything I look back on as a “good” thing in my life started with a leap of faith.
Even though, in every single case, I had absolutely no idea how – or even if – something was going to work out, I was stubborn (or perhaps stupid) enough to move forward anyway. Had I waited until I knew how all the pieces would fit together in advance, I wouldn’t have done a damn thing.
I wouldn’t have made an album 5 years ago. I wouldn’t have quit every job I’ve ever had. I wouldn’t have gotten engaged to a foreigner I’d just met and be married to her today. I wouldn’t have written this blog day-in-day-out for almost 8 months solid.
You’d think that knowing all that would help. But I still find myself constantly on the verge of wimping out. I’m deathly afraid to take a leap of faith, even though I have all the evidence I could ever need that it’s better on the other side. And that’s not because I always get what I want when I leap – in fact, I rarely do – but it’s because, as the Rolling Stones pointed out, “If you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.” And getting what you need feels even better than getting what you want.
I was thinking about it this morning. You see, I’m over a month into the first draft of a story right now. I have a little routine. Every day, I sit down at my laptop and I try to write one scene. When I’m done, I print it out, open my desk drawer, and add my new pages face-down onto the ever-growing pile.
And every single day without fail, I want to quit. I want to start again. So far, I haven’t given in yet. I have ploughed forward. I have added two or three pages to my pile every day without fail. But today was the closest I came.
My problem? I just can’t see how any of it fits together. Everything I come up with – that feels “right” in the moment – contradicts everything that came before it. Characters waltz on-stage as though they’re going to be integral parts of the story, never to be seen again. My hero’s love interest has changed her age, her hair colour, her taste in music, and even her cup size several times. And I’ve also noticed a funny habit of mine – whenever a scene starts to flag, my go-to instinct is to have either a phone ring unexpectedbly, or a doorbell ring unexpectedly. It’s hardly Hemingway, is it?
Everything inside me is crying out to quit and start this thing again. But I’m not. I’m staying the course – no matter how dumb that might seem – for one reason and one reason only: I’ve done that. I’ve quit and started again dozens and possibly hundreds of times. And I know how that goes: before long I hit another wall and want to quit and start again.
Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Well, I have a black-belt in quitting and starting again before I get to the end of a draft. So not this time. The leap of faith here – which is actually getting more difficult to take each day – is ploughing on in the face of uncertainty, and getting to “THE END.”
What I will say, however, is that even though I’m still incredibly murky as to what my story is, not a day goes by where I don’t know it slightly better when I stand up from my desk than I did when I first sit down. Each session might be the equivalent of taking one step on a journey of a thousand miles, but to me, that’s progress. And I’ll take it.
When you talk of taking a leap of faith, I suppose it begs the question “faith in what, exactly?” Well, the thing is, and not to get too “woo-woo”, I know that deep down, I do know exactly how it all fits together. Something inside me knows, at least, even if I couldn’t tell you myself. And that’s what I’m putting my faith in. A part of me that’s way deeper and far more intelligent than the tiny bit of my mind available for day-to-day living.
And I’m no special case. You have that too. That part of you is the reason why your leaps of faith work out too, just like mine always do. Again, not always “working out” in the sense that you get what you want. But always in the sense that you get what you need.
I share all this today in case you find yourself in a similar “belly of the beast” moment, facing a leap of faith. And all I can tell you is what works for me. Whenever I’ve leapt, whenever I’ve put my faith in that deeper and better part of me, it has NEVER let me down. In fact, the only thing that has ever let me down is the other part of me – the thinking part, the part that needs certainty, the part that wants to control everything and everyone… the part I funnily enough tend to think of as “me.”
That part that you think of as “you” isn’t “you”, any more than your left hand is your entire body. It is the tip of the iceberg. You are vast. There is far more to you than you can ever hope to understand. But if you want to get a glimpse of the rest of the iceberg, put your faith in it. And take a leap.