“Jump stupid,” jeered a long line of slimy guppies, scrambling up the ladder to the twenty-foot tall platform. It was my first time on San Carlos High’s skyscraping diving board, and I was terrified.
Eyes fixed on the smog-filled horizon gently blanketing the San Francisco Bay miles away, I loaded my lungs with air and closed my eyes, praying for a smooth entry (belly flops are never pretty). Then, taking a huge leap of faith, off the plank I stepped. Two seconds later, immersed in bubbles, euphoria wrapped its ecstatic arms around me. I’d conquered a fear, and the result was fantastic. How I wish the rest of my life could have been that easy.
Back in the 1960s, children were raised to have a vision for the life they wanted. Dreams of grandeur were allowed, but there was an underlying expectation that it also come with a healthy paycheck.
Later, as a budding artist in the 1970s, I sold my paintings on the streets of San Francisco with flowers in my hair and handmade embroidered clothing. While I made good money, it wasn’t enough to sustain my apartment. Though my art was constantly admired as a lovely hobby, I was told to never quit the day job. The life of an artist wasn’t lucrative, and success meant paying bills and acquiring possessions.
Today, sitting in my comfortable home of thirty-two years, I find my trees that began as whips planted in our yard have now morphed into profound roots. They’re so deep that it would take not only a jackhammer, but the Jaws of Life to move them, and likewise, me. A life of collecting stuff can do that to a person.
Not long ago, my eldest daughter decided to leave her world of fifteen years behind in Los Angeles. An opportunity arose for her soul to evolve to a higher level, and she wanted to grab it.
With her mother’s approval and encouragement, she gave up an apartment that she loved, all her belongings, and half her wardrobe. Kissing her goodbye at the airport, one-way ticket in hand, Michelle boarded a plane for Bali, return unknown.
Driving away, I began to reevaluate my life and wondered if I were given an opportunity that would ultimately enhance my life, albeit out of my comfort zone, would I do it? I’m afraid I don’t know.
For sixty-one years, I’ve been conditioned to live with opaque blinders as I galloped the road in front of me. Seguing off course didn’t create excitement, but suffocating fear. Sadly, by living in this straight jacket, I’m sure I’ve missed out on some spectacular opportunities presented by the universe because worry of the unknown was paralyzing.
Now, I’m not about to do anything drastic in the near future— I do love my life in Los Altos. Plus, I’m not brave enough to throw everything away on a whim. But if I can leave myself vulnerable to a possibility; an adventure, a new home, a new lifestyle, then perhaps one day I too can hurdle into the abyss spontaneously when the call sings to me.
I know that we only get to do this, life, once in our present form. How fun would it be, even if just for a moment, to allow ourselves to free fall into something wild and crazy? I hear Indonesia loves blondes…