Leap Of Faith
An Essay on Hope
So, falling in love and not being psychic? Massively inconvenient.
Totally. Not. Fair.
In the famously viral NY Times article by Mandy Catron (To Fall In Love With Anyone, Do This), she explores the the “36 Questions That Lead to Intimacy” (as presented in Dr Arthur Aron’s Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings. )
Question 13 asks: “If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future, or anything else, what would you want to know?”
Not so long ago, I did this experiment with someone I liked. And, yes, we fell in love. (But, full disclosure, I think we were already on our way to in love before we did the questions). I recall my answer to this question was something along the lines of “Maybe it’s better not to know. Maybe it’s better to just discover life as it happens and let things play out as they will.”
Was I full of shit, or what?
Obviously I was all pie-in-the-sky-glowing with new love. And now, I totally take it back. Yes, I want a crystal ball! And yes, I want to know how this all turns out! (I mean, I want to know other stuff too – but I promise I wouldn’t get too carried away with my crystal ball powers. It’s not like I’d use it to win the lottery…too many times…)
Let’s face it, People. Falling in love is a huge risk. It’s scary. Cause no matter how much you love and care for another human, you don’t get a guarantee that they are going to keep loving you back. You don’t even get a guarantee that them loving you back means you get to actually be with them. And falling in love in your 40’s, with kids and divorce and custody and exes – so many moving parts make it particularly challenging to get all the pieces to line up for an actual life together.
The reason those 36 Questions are so intriguing is we all want to be seen – truly seen – and loved for exactly who we are. And yet, opening up to someone and putting your heart out there is terrifying because we can’t know for sure what they see will be what they love. Or, as has been the case for me with a few men I’ve dated, that they will even try to really “see”you.
The man I fell for, I fell for because he sees me. And he sees me because he wants to see me. And I see him. Truly and beautifully. To be seen and loved is nothing short of a miracle.
But, yeah. I still want to see into the future with my damn crystal ball!
Here’s why. I’m officially amazed at two things in life: one, that anyone has more than one baby, especially if you’ve experienced natural child birth, and; two, that we keep risking our hearts after having them pulverized. One bad heart break should be enough to keep us from ever wanting to go through it again. So how do we keep taking that leap? How do we have the courage to let someone in, be vulnerable and open and hopeful – knowing that at any time, that person can choose to walk away?
I think it’s one of life’s great mysteries, to be honest. Love and loss go hand in hand, and yet we continue to put ourselves out there, to hope, to try, to seek for love in a world that offers us no guarantees. In a life where the only thing you can truly count on is change, it’s a brave and courageous leap of faith every single time you offer up your heart. And the truth is, many, many of us carry the scars and build walls out of a desire to prevent feeling the pain of heartache again.
So, as I dare to put my heart out there, I do want that crystal ball. I’m big on self-preservation.
And yet, there must be something in me – in all of us – that knows taking the leap is the only way to live. Right? Somehow the pain of the past isn’t enough to keep me from wanting to go forward and experience love – great love – again. Or, maybe even for the first time.
That thing in me, in you – it’s hope.
There have been times when my heart has been so hurt that I’ve thought, “You know what? That’s it. I’m not doing this again. I cannot risk this again – to hope for love and have it not work out is just too painful and disappointing. I’m done.” But I admit that even as I’ve thought this, I’ve known on some level I’m just being dramatic. I don’t even mean it, even though I’ve wanted to mean it sometimes.
I think that’s why this is one of my favorite poems:
There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask, “What if I fall?”
Oh, but my darling,
What if you fly?
Man, that little poem makes me weep. There is so much wrapped up in those five little lines. There’s fear, there’s pain, there’s hope, there’s promise. Life is in the living.
Take the leap. Love. Hope.