Friday, March 7, 2014

Leap of Faith

"Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith."
 -Margaret Shepard

In addition to the trolling, cat videos, and Buzzfeed lists populating the Internet, one also has access to an immense array of inspirational quotes. The snippet above quickly became one of my favorites after I saw it on Pinterest last year and is one of the few I enjoy disseminating to the general public.

What I like about Margaret Shepard's quote is that it's not aggressive, manipulative, or belittling like many can become. It's simple without being condescending, hopeful without being stupid, and is pretty easy to visualize. The problem I have with a lot of these so-called inspirational quotes is that they almost seem to berate those of us not taking huge risks and living "extraordinary" lives. Yes, it's good to be motivated, and many of us probably need more than we receive, but there's a line between a pep talk and bullying to drive a point home.

There are so many reasons why people live their lives in ways that practically reduce risk to zero. There are reasons why it's easier to stay "stuck" in an uncomfortable place rather than venture out into the open in search of something more. There are reasons why it's safer to disconnect from your friends and family, the people around you, your self, than it is to take the chance of showing off who you are in that moment on that day. There are reasons why it's more convenient to stick with what is known instead of looking into the unknown and only being able to see your own reflection.

There are reasons that are valid, okay, and rooted deeply in survival. And heck, obviously you've had to survive to get to the point of reading this.

But sometimes one's present pain becomes greater than the threat of change.

And that's when you may have to take a leap. All the calculations in the world can't guarantee us anything in this life as life owes us nothing. Still, I have enough hope that there's good in the world, and that there's enough to cushion us where we land.

But we have to jump first.

That gets me to another aspect of the quote I like. It doesn't say that you always must be choosing risk and leaping off bridges to live a full life. Sometimes we have to jump, sometimes it's our only option, our only mode of getting from the stagnant to the overflowing. The leaps may be little, they may be large, they may be individual or communal. There is no quantification because you can't reduce a person to data, to numbers, to an algorithm. Our souls are more expansive than that.

Sometimes you have to make a leap.