Is the unknown a place to be feared? Or does it contain everything could ever want?
A few years ago, I interviewed a young mother with stage 4 melanoma about the nature of wellbeing. She had discovered her cancer during the birth of her first child, who was three years old when we spoke. While her ongoing treatment had been gruelling and her prognosis uncertain at best, she told me that she knew she was fine, and would be fine, even if she died.
She said that when she first learned of her cancer, she saw herself standing on the precipice of the now, facing the dark, ominous face of her future. It took strength and courage to keep stepping off; and she certainly didn’t welcome falling.
Before cancer, stepping over the edge scared her. It was something to be prepared for at almost any cost. She once had a plan to hold her fears at bay: her child and marriage, her work, and a bucket list of dreams for when her child grew up and left home. These comforting sandcastles of her hoped-for future crumbled with a flash when she learned she had cancer.
But a short distance down her journey with cancer, she had an insight into her true nature and what it meant for her future. She realized that her wellbeing, her innate ability to love, connect, and create a purposeful life hadn’t been touched by the disease.
Then, when she looked over the cliff, her fear was gone. She saw that there had never been a cliff. She had always been falling.
Her cancer diagnosis shattered her illusions about the future, but it revealed within her a well of wellbeing deeper and wider than the uncertain future she faced. Seeing that she was okay no matter what freed her, in the midst of her treatment, to create a life and make choices which would have been unimaginable before her insight. Stepping off was just another step.
She was free.
Sounds scary, doesn’t it? Living your entire life in freefall.
But what if you knew you couldn’t get hurt? That a net was always there to catch you and break your fall? Would you still be afraid? If you knew that wellbeing was always there to hold and guide you. Your physical form could get hurt or damaged, would age and die for certain, but the wellbeing that you were born with, could never change or grow old.
What would you do if you understood that life had your back? How might an understanding like that grace your own falling? What if the darkness wasn’t empty space but filled with endless possibilities waiting to be discovered and brought to light?
We are always falling, being caught and held, whether we see it not. When I forget this, which I do on a daily basis, the fear feels real, and I suffer. But I too have had the good fortune to see the stuff I’m made of is greater than anything life can throw in my path, so I recover quickly.
We are always being caught. We will always be held.
Take the step.