Monday, December 29, 2008

Jump. Both Feet.

My old stomping grounds were the Northwest suburbs of Chicago. As I was growing up, my aunt and her two children, Heb and Beefcake, lived two blocks from us. My dad's parents lived about 20 minutes from us; my mom's, 40 minutes. My dad's brothers and sisters along with my seven other cousins were within an hour radius of our house. I lived there for about 14 years. I ended up moving a couple of times within the northwest/west area. I worked at the same place for 14 years.

Looking back I can't imagine why I didn't move up to Eau Claire sooner. But then, when I'd lived in Illinois, the thought of leaving every last thing I had come to know and love was a fearful and anxious deal. Until my last parental anchor (I mean that in a good way, Momma) moved to Atlanta. After that, I felt...homeless. I moved in with two other women my age...and couldn't stand it. Aside from living way south of where I worked, I had to commute in what can only be described as a most heinous journey of gridlock, a multitude of stop lights and nearly an hour in the car one way. Then I moved in with my aunt for a year, and as that time passed, and the realization that affording my own place wasn't going to work the way I wanted it to, Eau Claire started to appeal. I had no attachments in Illinois, other than friends and extended family. The job was never that important, but moving away from my social circle, small though it may have been, was something I wasn't ever sure I could do. I didn't have any work lined up in Eau Claire either, despite some dedicated effort to snag employment prior to the move.

But I did it. Granted, I had a comfort zone to move to...I've been to Eau Claire many times before I moved here and having my dad and brother living up here made the decision less intimidating. But the move made me realize that it's true what all those adults had been telling you your entire life (see? They aren't as stupid as we all once thought!): The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. You never know if you don't try.

Since I finally determined I was going to move, it's like this part of my brain has suddenly awakened and I've become so much more brave than my former self. Sure, it's not exactly Medal of Honor courage that makes you move to a new town, or try something that you've never tried before. But it's your own battle against whatever you fear, no matter how small. I fully expect the possibility of failure or face a rough road ahead at whatever I first. Where once long ago the voice in my head would say, "Why bother? You won't be good at it," I now hear, "Why not? You won't be good at it at first."

Failure, I've learned, is a necessary part of everything you do. Human beings cannot be perfect in whatever they attempt. It's also not the way the universe works. Without failure we wouldn't have evolution, advances in technology and science, or medicine. Failure is a required piece of experience.

So, being afraid of failing? Utterly ridiculous. Face the fact that you will likely fail, but what makes a difference is if you keeping trying regardless. I always like to recall something about Thomas Edison failing 1,000 times before he got the incandescent light bulb to work. To put a better spin on his experience, he said, "I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb." But what other ideas or inventions did those 1,000 times yield? Did one of those attempts steer him in another direction as well?

I'm soapboxing here because I like to think I'm an example (and improving) of the "What the hell?" philosophy. It started with "The Move" and it's only been limited by my finances at the time or my not thinking big enough. Motorcycling was one. Pinstriping is another (oh yes, Me of Little Art armed with a surface is safe). My first attempt is flippin' HORRIBLE, but I'm still excited about what's to come. Maybe I'll become renowned as a "primitive pinstriper." Guitar lessons (good lord, maybe even singing lessons) are coming as soon as I pay off the 50cc dirt bike I bought last month...for improving my sportbike riding, believe it or not. Okay, so it's really because I'm lazy and would like my own pit bike when I'm trackside. But a neat side effect might be excelling at motorcycling on the street. Why? Because I'm more brave on such a small, slow bike and it presented itself as a much less stupid idea than screwing around on my sportbike.

Maybe you're pinched for cash. Maybe you are completely occupied with your children. Maybe you're "stuck" in a rotten relationship. Find a quiet place, sit down, relax, hash out what's the worst that happens if you change direction? You risk your money? There's more to be found. Think bigger, broader. You have no time? Bet you could find some. Don't go up and down the stairs 20 times a day. Plan out multiple tasks for one trip. Maybe you free up 5 minutes to learn Japanese that way, a little bit at a time.

Fear is stupid, limiting, and keeps you from becoming a well-rounded person. Think of it this much time do you have left if this is the only life you get? Wouldn't you want to be able to say you've accomplished so much and you wouldn't change it for anything? And be proud of that??

Jump. Both Feet.


  1. Bravo my wise cousin, Bravo! It's utterly amazing to witness you seeing yourself through my eyes, the way I've always seen you!
    Keep jumping.....

  2. Somewhere I read that all the earth-shaking importance we put on what we do either goes away or falls into the hands of someone else when we die. Simple, quiet transition. Except for our closest peeps we probably won't be missed, at least not for long. Do what you want! There is no failure, only "learning experiences."

  3. Whoa! New format. Yep. I'm in the right place.

    Jump. Both feet. It's a mantra.

    I may have to borrow it. I just wish I knew what I wanted to jump both feet in.

    Are we measuring from where they teach you where the actual stomach is or from the belly button?

    word verif - flead... like the bug or like get the hell out of here?

  4. Cheryl,

    I think it's from the actual stomach...that's pretty high up. Though I figured 10 inches would include surface area. You know, gut circumference.

  5. Momma,

    I don't think it matters so much what other people make of your life as much as what you have made of it.

  6. 1. Love the new format. Very sleek. Chic, if you will.

    2. Thoughts on reading your latest post: Crap-- she's right. And I was just becoming very, very good at blaming my frazzled life style on others. Damn. Now I have to go and take responsibility for my own life again. Shitzizzle.

    3. Thanks. Very,very much.