Leap of Faith

“Mom, it was the most exhilarating experience of my life,” my third daughter, Lauren, excitedly said on the phone. “At first, I was so scared that I think I actually blacked out, but when I came to, I loved every second.” It was Lauren’s twenty-fourth birthday and her boyfriend decided to surprise her with the time of her life.

“Jackie, you may want to call your daughter and tell her you love her,” JJ said, smiling as he picked up my birthday for her from my house hours before.

“Why? What are you doing with my baby?”

“I’m taking her skydiving!”

“Oh my God!” I shouted, looking at his happy face. “You make her call me the minute she lands!”

The entire day I sat nervously at my desk at work waiting for the call that all was well.

In my heart I knew it would be, but what if? What if the parachute didn’t open? What if she broke her leg as she landed? What if, what if, what if? The whole idea made me sick to my stomach.

Listening to her happy voice, I was relieved. Laying the phone down, I began to think about all the times I didn’t do things because of the “what if?” Skydiving was definitely one of them. Playing it safe was so much easier. Occasionally, I look back and feel sad for missed opportunities. Round and round in my mind swirls “if I only could have, would have, should have.” I wish I had just taken that leap of faith that all would be fine. How different many of my experiences would have been.

A “leap of faith” is defined as the act of believing in something without, or in spite of empirical evidence. In other words, wanting something and taking a chance. These opportunities can come in the form of a new job, deciding on having a family, moving to a different city, taking an adventurous trip or beginning a relationship. I have always admired people who took chances knowing full well they may not work out. They seemed to be comfortable with the knowledge that if the end result was not what they were hoping for, they could at least say they tried.

Fear is a definite factor when dealing with the unknown, but sometimes it can be just laziness. We allow ourselves to fall into a groove where all is relaxed and smooth sailing. It may be boring, but it’s known. Why upset the applecart when the road we’re on is so easy? But then there were those times you did step out of your comfort zone and it actually worked out. Your life became richer, more fun, more meaningful and it was worth all the effort.

I find myself amazed by our younger generation of adults today. After college, many are traveling the world, moving to cities far away for an adventure and without a friend to act as an anchor. They are testing not only life, but themselves. When I graduated from the University of San Francisco, in  1975, I staying in the city because all my friends were still there. For most of my life I did what was safe, but not anymore.

Now that I’m in my second half of life, I’ve decided to be more like my children. Fear to them is just a word. They take chances, seize opportunities and follow their dreams. This not to say they don’t experience disappointment and even failure, but each new episode teaches a lesson. More often than not, the opportunity is a success and what a thrill.

My challenge is to start taking that “leap of faith” when new prospects present themselves. They might be scary and there’s always the possibility that they could hurt me, but as the old saying goes, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” My choice could end up being a life altering decision that will change me forever – and for the better! I never again want to look back on my life and say “why didn’t I do that?”  Perhaps it’s not to late to skydive!