We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal, and then leap in the dark to our success.
~Henry David Thoreau
Life is a travelling to the edge of knowledge, then a leap taken.
~David Herbert Lawrence
For me, one of the most interesting times in life is buying a plane ticket. Seems pretty straightforward, but to me that’s an exciting moment—one filled with the promise of adventure.
When buying plane tickets, many people buy the nonrefundable kind because they’re cheaper. When we click that button, we’re making a commitment to the trip and all it entails. We’re taking a leap of faith. We have faith that our seat will be there, that the plane will get us where we’re going, that the 1,001 arrangements we made will pan out. Maybe it’s commitment to having a good time or to achieving a goal.
In all of our lives, we don’t personally handle all the details. In the simplest transactions, we take many things on faith. When we do something as basic as buying milk, we assume that it was properly handled, that it was processed correctly, that the date stamp is right. We don’t check each of these things. We are making a leap of faith, and we are leaping every day.
We also make more fundamental leaps of faith in our lives. Whenever we make an important decision, we are making many assumptions. In accepting a job, for example, we’re assuming that we can handle the duties and challenges as they arise, that the job will match our vision of the job, and that we’ll get along with our new boss and coworkers.
When we send our children off into the world, we assume we’ve prepared them for the challenges and dangers of the world, we’ve instilled in them a desire to do their best and to achieve their goals, we’ve given them a moral compass so they’ll do the right thing, and we’ve given them a sense of fun and the capacity for happiness. We also have to assume they’ll take that preparation and run with it!
Taking a leap of faith doesn’t mean we’re leaving things to chance. We all make preparations and do the research. We rely on past performance and expect it will continue. We see patterns of behavior and make predictions about how those patterns will continue. In short, we do what we can do, collect all the information we can, and trust that we are making the right choices. We are taking leaps of faith, but it is not blind faith.
Ultimately, life wouldn’t be as interesting or exciting if we knew all the outcomes. We do what we can to make our lives go the way we want, but sometimes it’s fun not knowing what will happen. We all want some level of stability, but leaving some things to chance provides some adventure in our lives. And we all need a little adventure.
Take baseball for example (baseball, as we all know, is a perfect metaphor for life) (see Baseball). We get in shape, we learn the skills and the strategy, and we practice till our muscles ache and our hands are raw. Then we step up to the plate, confident that we’ve done everything we can to prepare. But in baseball and in life, there are no guarantees. A wise man once said, “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains. Think about that for a while.”
Whether we realize it or not, we all buy a plane ticket every day, and we have to be ready for the adventure that lies ahead.