Sunday, June 16, 2013

Be brave: Try

Some of the smallest acts require the biggest efforts: writing the first words on a blank page, stepping up to a microphone, walking onto a dance floor. We could live our whole lives without doing most things that both intrigue and terrify us, and nobody would ever be the wiser. But we’d know. And that’s the kicker.

Longing to try something, while avoiding it like hell, keeps us emotionally stuck: we can’t hold back in one area of our life and not be holding back in others. So today, what would you like to try? If thinking of a sentence helps, try this one:

I would like to ________, but ________.

I met a champion extreme snow skier one winter in Vermont. The mountains were covered with snow and ice, and I asked him to be my walk buddy whenever we went outside. He explained how while he's skiing at breakneck speed, he looks only at the open space on a path, not at objects that might cause him to crash, and that as long as he moves toward space, he doesn’t crash. I spent every walk we took stepping exactly wherever he stepped.

A similar shift in focus might work when we lose sight of space and, instead, can see only what might, maybe, could (but probably won’t) block the path. It doesn’t matter if we’re scared. It doesn’t matter if we’re not a champion at what we’re trying to do. It matters only that we try. One little step. Then another. 
First time clipped into the pedals.
It’s strange to think that taking even a little step toward having a new experience can make us healthier in all areas of our life, but it can. We get braver with each step that we take. And when we’re braver, we’re better able to see the open space that is always so much bigger than what scares us. 
I can't stop staring at what scares me!
This past winter while a group of us were giving timed presentations at a retreat, one presenter froze. He was going along fine, when he suddenly stopped mid-sentence. He turned to the teacher, Pema Chödrön, and said, “I need to stop. I can’t go on.” Her response was soft and her voice was low: She said, “Try.” He took a big breath and spoke a sentence, then another, until he finished his talk. It's a lovely thing to be in the presence of someone willing to try.

Is there something that you want to try, but you can't see beyond what seems to be blocking the way? May you step out into space anyway. May you take a big breath and do something extremely brave: just try.

On Commitment

Until one is committed, there is always hesitancy,
the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.
Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation),
there is one elementary truth,
the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:
that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help that would never otherwise have occurred.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision,
raising to one's favor all manner of unforeseen accidents and meetings
and material assistance which no man could have dreamed
would come his way.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.