How many of us get trapped in the same pattern of behavior because it’s known and comfortable? We stay in the same dead-end job or the same unfulfilling relationship or at the same less-than-ideal weight for days that turn into months and months that turn into years. The fact of the matter is that when we stand on the ledge looking down into the abyss, we freak out. We can look behind us at the safety of the land and we know what we’re gonna get – the controlling boss or the absentee partner. We know it’s not ideal and we know we need to do something about it, but we stay right where we’re at because well, the alternative is a crapshoot. At the bottom of the fall may be a beautiful, sunlit grassy meadow or it may be a pit of snakes. We don’t know. And not knowing keeps us trapped in patterns and habits we know we should break, but we just can’t bring ourselves to do it.
The idea of living life without regrets, or by being a ‘yes’ person is certainly admirable. Sometimes I wish I was the sort of person who always leapt before I looked, figuring it out as I went, but alas, I’m not. I’m an over thinker. No matter the situation, I think, ponder, analyze, overanalyze, rethink, reponder…well, you get the idea. And this pattern is what keeps me on the ledge. No matter the situation, I can rationalize my way into and out of it a thousand times. And I’m stuck.
In What Alice Forgot, Alice wakes up from a concussion thinking she’s 10 years younger than she is. That it’s 10 years before it actually is. And she realizes that her life is nothing like she had envisioned. Now I’m not foolish enough to believe that all childhood dreams come true. That everyone can be an astronaut or a famous actress. The realities of life sometimes stand in our way. But we are also not a victim to our circumstances. We always have a choice. We can always fight, or say no, or run, or quit. But that means leaping off the ledge. And often times, there’s nothing in the world scarier than that prospect.
And yet sometimes, there comes a moment of clarity. A lens sharpens either as a result of a life event or a universal shift, giving us just the nudge we need to do it. Whatever it is. To leave the ledge. Because at some point, we have to stop thinking and analyzing. We have to realize that no matter what happens, we have to act. We cannot see our lives in ten years and be standing on the exact same ledge looking into the exact same abyss. We are meant to change. To grow. To act. To react. It won’t always be the beautiful meadow we hoped for. But sometimes, perhaps, it will be. The unknown will never be less scary than the known. But it will be necessary.