I’m writing this from somewhere in Harlem, New York City. I had to get away from my friends for a while because I felt overwhelmed by everything – these present changes, the future, the past… It felt like so much, too much. So, I did what I do best – went to a nearby cafe, got a dirty soy chai, and started writing. And, like a hail Mary, what I wrote feels like it saved my life.
The reality is that following my dreams into this deep, dark unknown feels fucking terrifying, on multiple levels – mental, physical, and spiritual.
The truth is, I am in free fall right now. And I’m noticing that there’s a stark difference between falling afraid, and falling with faith. Falling with faith means trusting that I’ll be fine wherever I land – that there will be soft pillows, or that I will land on all fours like a cat. And then there’s falling afraid – full of fear for my fragile bones, which might shatter upon impact. Falling afraid fills me with a hopeless longing for the ledge from which I’ve just leapt, and a longing for that old, comfortable stability which is slipping further and further away every second. Falling afraid feels like I’m in an endless nightmare spiraling toward doom, waiting and hoping to wake up.
The difference between falling afraid and falling with faith is simply a difference in experience, not a difference in action. Let’s face it – I’m falling either way. But the perspective, the experience, the mindset of the fall makes all the difference in the world. It’s the difference between falling, and falling with style. I’m realizing that if I can manage to fall with style, I’m essentially flying.
Buzz Lightyear, one of the main characters in the Disney movie Toy Story, showed me that flying is simply falling, but with style. Buzz believed, at the beginning of the movie, that he alone possessed the power to fly, and he learned the painful, devastating lesson that he is, in fact, just a toy, capable of nothing more than flinging himself down a flight of stairs to his demise.
But something happened in Buzz’s mindset as a result of realizing that he was indeed just a toy: he was able to develop a faith in something bigger than himself. It is this humble faith that allows Buzz to take the biggest leap of all when he attaches himself and Woody to a rocket in order to make a last-ditch attempt to catch up to their beloved Andy, who is speeding away in his mom’s minivan. Buzz knew that he was a just toy, breakable and fragile as anything, when he jumped that day. He did not know for sure that he would make the goal, or even survive if he did, but he leapt into the unknown anyway!
If you’re familiar with the movie Toy Story, it was Woody who originally called Buzz out for lying about his ability to fly. But in that last climactic scene, Woody exclaims gleefully, “We’re flying!” and Buzz replies, “This isn’t flying – it’s falling with style.” And lo and behold, they land exactly where they need to be, at exactly the right time.
True bravery is knowing that flying is an illusion, accepting that I was not born with wings or feathers, and jumping anyway. Bravery is to know that I am only human, fragile and weak, but to leap regardless, to leap and believe that there is a chance that I can achieve my goal.
Falling with this type of faith feels as if I am flying.
That’s faith. That’s trust. That’s divinity inherent.
I’m in tears with the understanding that I have faith not in my own control, but in my ability to leap into the arms of the Universe. I have faith in the Universe’s ability to wrap itself underneath me and transform me into a winged, soaring beast.
I want to be in this state of falling with style as much as possible. And I don’t need to be capable of flight – I just need to be able to leap, and to trust.