daily fieldnotes

October, 2011 archive

On Taking a Leap 3

Leaps and risks are linked for me like clouds and rain: you can’t have one without the other. To make a leap is to face your fears, imagine your possibilities, and go into the unknown. To leap is to take a risk.

Christina recently wrote about finishing her first book, and finished the post by asking us to think about the leaps in our lives.  “When was a time you took an enormous leap? What did it feel like? What happened next?”. Like Caren in the comments to the post, I too made leaps that feel huge to me now “when I was younger and less aware of the insanity of my decisions”. Leaving everything I knew to go to college 3000 miles away, the first in my family, armed only with a scholarship, $400 for books, and a heart full of ambition. Moving to Spain for two years and becoming an English teacher. Moving back to go to grad school, and find my way out of heartbreak. Trusting love and commitment again, when I met JJ.

As a kid, I leaped with abandon. Climbed trees so high that I swayed in the wind, nailed wood into the trunk to make steps and go even higher. Jumped from the peaked roof of my mom’s studio to our house, gasping through the danger of air and sidewalk below until my feet skidded into the sandy gray roof tiles on the other side. Then did it again, hair flying behind me as I took a running start down the sloped studio roof. And raced with my brother to the train tracks after hearing the whistle from a mile away, legs pumping furiously on our bikes, hearts racing as we slapped pennies on the tracks to be crushed by the oncoming freight train.

This year, I took another leap. Stepped off the career track I was on to become a professor, and started imagining doing something that allows more expression for my creative soul. It’s felt like the riskiest leap I’ve taken yet, admitting I was on the wrong path and making space for a new one. The stakes feel so much higher as an adult, the unnamed fears so much more consequential.

About to become a parent myself, I can’t imagine courting danger as I did when I leapt across rooftops as a kid. Yet choosing to change my career path feels like reclaiming some of the boldness I felt then, the daring of climbing further into the treetop just to see if I can.

I don’t know what my future job will be. There are surely failures and missteps as I figure it out. But there is also certainty that I’m headed in the right direction. There is possibility in committing to daily creative work as a way of exploring new paths. And there is resolve as I write daily toward the goal of finishing a draft of my thesis before the baby comes in February, so I can graduate in May and leap into what lies beyond.