leap of faith
The past few days have been unseasonably cool, beautiful in their lack of humidity, breeze clinging like fall. It’s like a moment taken out of time, dropped here, where it seems impossible, yet it is solid – as distinct as a kiss. This is a preview of fall, a time not yet arrived, although it is my favorite season – despite knowing that winter is just out of sight.
It is a strange thing, this out-of-place reprieve. This disjointed moment of what will be, down the line. It reminded me, oddly, of my lack of patience. My desire to make things different now, instead of planning. Instead of waiting. Instead of letting it all be and watching, quietly, as the world unfolds as it must.
The other day, a friend reminded me of a quote from Doctor Who, “Demons run when a good man goes to war.” It made me think that, perhaps, waiting is another kind of war – a thing we fight with, and in, ourselves. A conflict that can only be resolved through time itself, and nothing short of a TARDIS changes that. Sometimes, the hardest thing to do is nothing. I’ve been learning that recently, and I’ve been trying to be patient. Because, generally, brute force and keening solve absolutely nothing. Yet, like this out-of-place weather, doing nothing seems strange, foreign. So unlike me. I’m a doer. A fixer. A changer. A person who loves action and words. Even still, I am reminded that even the disjointed, uncomfortable feelings have a purpose.
Lately, I think it’s all too easy to forget that waiting can be wise. In today’s world of instant everything (communication, video-on-demand, information, etc.), we are trained (or have been retrained) to expect everything to be fast and immediate. When it doesn’t happen, when there’s a gap and a grace period, there’s a panic that rises – or even an irritation in some people. There’s a feeling of wrongness, because our howling NOW attitude demands to be sated, like some kind of emotional Audrey II. This is Me First, for the digital age. (If you never read that story, I think it’s in free to be you and me.)
The truth is that, sometimes, you have to trust in the unknown. You do, and have done, everything that you can. (Whatever it is. This applies to everything.) Then what’s required is the scary, terrifying leap of faith. Find beauty in the moment, and see what happens. Fix your eyes on the horizon, and trust the current to take you there. Sometimes, letting go of control is the perfect way to get to your destination. Because not everything in life can be planned for, not really. And the important things almost never are scheduled. They just happen. Maybe it’s the right place, right time. Maybe you stopped to tie your shoe. Maybe you sent out a tweet. Maybe this. Maybe that. Life is, often, made of maybe. And there are days where that’s terrifying. Where we crave certainty and solidity like air. There are days where we yearn for proof to act as a talisman against doubt and fear – a tangible cross to ward off the intangible monsters that pace back and forth in our heads. But, perhaps, when we do that we are trying to place our faith in the wrong things. A talisman, essentially, is just an object. A thing. It has power, because we will it to, because we believe it does.
Earlier today, I came across a Margaret Atwood quote that reaffirmed the fact that I’d like to be her when I grow up. However, since I never really plan on growing up, I’d settle for writing a line as perfectly as she does.
“Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.” ― The Penelopiad
Sometimes, we have to remember that we’re water. That going through an obstacle, or a moment, isn’t possible. Going around it, instead, is the wisest course of action. Water is a thing that gives life. It can also drown. Everything in life is like that: half one thing and half another, determined by circumstances and perspective. A marriage can feel like freedom or a cage. Love can feel like magic or a winding sheet. A job can feel like an opportunity or an obligation. There’s a duality to nearly everything.
I have been, for weeks now, trying to be water. Trying to get where I need to go, trying to be where I am, and trying to get around the boulders that seem like mountains. Being like water means trusting in things to take their course, trusting in sanctity of patience. It’s turning off the light to really get to know the dark. It’s chasing the sun. There are a thousand ways to be brave, but only one way to be a coward – that is, to give up. To quit. To nestle in to whatever hell or doldrums you find yourself and accept stagnation.
Water flows. Water is patient. Water does. Remember this. Remember that everything, even a cool day during summer, is a possibility that wasn’t there before. And sometimes, you have to gather yourself before you can get anything done.