Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Step Three - Failure to Launch


“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood him.”  Al-Anon's Step Three

In my youth, I dated a hang-glider for a spell, spending weekends helping him haul gear to jump sites where he and his friends would soar like birds over the California hills.  I never jumped, of course.  It was my job to drive the truck back down to the landing spot and help them break everything down, they with exhilarated smiles on their faces, me with a sunburn.  One morning, we went to a beginners spot on the bluffs overlooking the beach. As I unloaded the gear, I decided it was my turn.  I took a few practice runs in the field with the kite strapped on my back, and then came the moment of truth.  I thought to myself, “Just let go.  That’s all you have to do.  The kite will do the rest.”

I took off running towards the edge of the bluff, and the clumsiness of the kite eased as the wind filled its wings and began to lift me, ever so slightly out of my own weight.  A few more steps and I would be airborne, but as I watched the edge of the earth approaching, fear rose up uncontrollably and applied the brakes.

Four or five steps from the edge, my heels dug into the bluff, cutting two deep troughs into the dirt.  Desperately, I sat down and started digging a third trough with my backside and the kite came crashing into my shoulders and head.  The damage I suffered as a result of pulling out was much worse than anything that could have happened had I jumped.  I had road rash from head to toe and an enormous knot on my head, not to mention the humiliation of my open cowardice.

I have always regretted pulling out that day.  Out of fear, I attempted to control the motion of something that was designed to demonstrate freedom and grace.  Out of pride, I never went back to try again.  Much of my life has been like this.  Fear has controlled and defined me.  Decisions were made specifically to mitigate losses.  But just as it is with the kite, sometimes I create more damage in my effort to control things, and I keep myself from experiences that could be been life changing.  When I allow my will and my fear to lock me away, I deny myself the experience of freedom, grace, and newness that this life has to offer.  There are fewer lows (or so I tell myself), and consequently fewer highs, but it’s a little like flat-lining something that was always intended to be alive.

At my age, I don’t think I’ll be jumping off any bluffs soon.  That experience has long passed.  But as I learn to make conscious decisions to let go of the leash I’ve had on my life, I am able to envision other leaps of faith that may open doors for me.  Fear still wrestles with me on a daily basis, but I am learning to take the reins and hand them off to my higher power.  Not just with big decisions; with the little ones too.   Should I spend the afternoon worrying about the bills?  Should I strip my life down to bare bones so that I can quit my job and write a book?  

What would my life look like if I let something other than fear control those decisions?  I can’t say that I’ve actually turned my will and my life over yet, but I work on it every day.  And the more I do so, the more I feel my higher power fill my wings and begin to lift me from my own weight.


photo credit:  www.istockphoto.com/07-31-07 @ Ernst Daniel Scheffler
© Copyright 2013 al-anon journal

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting - I need to think about this. Thank you for the post.

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