Unexpected Inspiration

Choose the path you haven't traveled yet.

Choose the path you haven’t traveled yet.

Today I got a giant sucker punch in the gut of the universe reminding me to embrace life.

First, I saw an article from Relevant Magazine about the trials of the quarter-life crisis.

Then this essay from The Minimalists about envisioning the worst… and best… case scenarios. It reminded me of something my sister always tells me when I’m being dramatic and overly worried: What’s the worst thing that could possibly happen? (My car dies on the side of the road because of some mysterious squeaking noise and won’t start no matter what I do.) And how would you deal with that? (Call a taxi, get myself to a car dealership, and buy a new car.) Then everything else will be a piece of cake.

Finally, I listened to this speech by Neil Gaiman. This link has both a video and the written out version. He’s wonderful to listen to, but I love having both available.

And all this brought me a great reminder of my word for this year: Embrace.

For me, the opposite of Embrace is Avoid. I simply sit on ideas until the slowly melt into life’s scenery. Enough avoidance results in forgetting, and I go about life without thinking about the things I’m not doing.

Embracing opportunities makes us vulnerable. There’s no way to hide when you take a giant leap, and once you jump off a cliff, you can’t say, “Just kidding!” Suddenly, you’re free falling, and all you can do is enjoy the ride and see where you land.

Don’t worry—there will always be another cliff to jump off. But if you don’t make one jump, you’re just standing like an idiot at the top of a mountain with nothing to do but enjoy the view. You’re only observing, not participating in your own life.

It’s exceedingly difficult for me to make that move, to go past the point of no return. How do I finally push myself off that cliff?

I search for my reason. Why am I doing this? Why do I want this?

I search for inspiration. I read, look at photographs, meditate.

I search for encouragement. A 20-minute conversation with someone who genuinely believes in me is sometimes worth more than a week of struggling on my own.

I search for proof that I’m getting better. Sit down with your old work, something you once thought was really, really good, maybe something that in your mind was the best thing you ever created. Guess what: you’re doing better work today.

All of these things push me over the edge.

And when all else fails, I remember a friend who has lives a varied, interesting life. She once told me that when faced with a decision to stay where she was or take a leap into the unknown, leaping has always, always proved to be the right choice.


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