Leap of Faith
I was a bundle of nerves standing on a tiny rectangular platform, twenty-five feet in the air. It was about one-hundred degrees Fahrenheit and the extreme heat combined with my intense fear was a really, really bad combination. I recently said “Yes” to my dream come true - a once in my lifetime opportunity to perform on the high flying trapeze. I felt totally exhilarated and terrified, at the same time! My normally shy persona was wrestling with my current predicament; I was dressed in a glittery purple costume and performing a nerve-wracking circus act, in front of a very large crowd. Honestly, I’m not sure which was worse – my fear of heights, the flamboyant purple costume, or my performance anxiety!
The first time I took a flying trapeze class, I was absolutely, positively hooked. We all probably remember going to the circus and watching the flying trapeze, where a daring acrobat climbs up a tiny ladder, to an even tinier platform, high above the crowd. The flyer performs a death-defying feat of some sort and is caught (hopefully!) by the catcher who is swinging upside-down, across from the flyer, on a separate “catch bar.” The timing for all of this to happen is very precise, so the catcher will yell “Hep” when it’s time for the flyer to take off. If the flyer doesn’t jump exactly on cue, he or she will most likely miss the catch and plummet to the net.
As the author Katrina Mayer once said, “A leap of faith is only scary until you land.” This was certainly true for me! Even after five years of training, I was still a nervous wreck as I stood on the platform, preparing to perform my trick for the audience. Anxiously leaning over the ledge, I reached out with my right hand and grabbed the fly bar. Seconds seemed to stretch into minutes as I nervously waited for the catcher to give me my cue to jump. Finally, I heard a barely audible “Hep” over the loud music. I immediately swung the fly bar up to me and then I took off! Trying to ignore the crowd, nerves, heat and way too much sweat, I performed my trick and prayed. Much to my relief the catcher grabbed my forearms, as my “leap of faith” was met by his competent hands. I was elated! I had arrived at my destination safe and sound.
Swinging on the flying trapeze wasn’t the first time I dabbled with a death-defying leap of faith. Ten years before I joined the circus, I took a far riskier leap of faith. I left a stable, well-paying job and leaped into the unknown. I followed my Heart praying that I would somehow be caught by the competent hands of a benevolent Universe.
Did I land safely?
Well, here’s my story…
A Bad “Case of the Mondays”
In 1996, I graduated with a degree in Computer Science from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California. The degree served as a minor distraction from the college parties, philosophy classes, friends, food, and fun. So, I was not prepared for the level of depression and boredom that set in pretty quickly after I graduated. After investing so much time, energy, (and my parent’s money) into my degree, I found myself feeling tremendously disappointed as I embarked on my new career as a Software Engineer.
After graduation, I accepted a job offer from a large corporation in San Diego, California. Many people feel excited when they start a new career. I, on the other hand, dreaded every minute of every day. I lived for the weekends. On Sunday evenings, I always felt depressed and resentful knowing that I had to go back to work the next day. I constantly suffered from a bad “case of the Mondays” - a gloomy sense of foreboding at the beginning of each work week. I was basically going to work just to collect a paycheck.
Why was I so miserable?
First of all, I detested the work environment in general. For eight hours a day, I lived in a cubicle: a special workspace that expertly blocked my view of the outside world. Yet this square marvel of engineering failed to mask even subtle noises (or smells!) from other co-workers. Not only was I trapped in a cubicle, I could have sworn that someone had the responsibility to maintain the office thermostat at consistently freezing temperatures. My cubicle always felt like the inside of a refrigerator, leaving me basically uncomfortable all day, every day.
Second, the work was more tedious than watching cactus grow in a desert. My boss gave me easy, uninspiring, and particularly boring work to do. I programmed software that would talk to databases, and I had to test very detailed, mind-numbing lines of code. I felt incredibly apathetic doing this lackluster work. I questioned the very nature of time: was time linear or did it have a magical capacity to travel backwards inside my artic prison? In the morning, I would actually count the minutes until lunch, eager to leave the office for my one hour of freedom. After lunch, I would constantly fight the temptation to sleep through the afternoon. And despite my bad attitude, I was fairly competent at what I did. I almost always ran out of work, leaving me with nothing to do other than occupy my desk and pretend to work until the end of the day. At precisely five PM, I would leave the office, cherishing my few hours of freedom, until the next work day.
Third, I was scared for my future self. I have a very distinct memory of attending the company awards ceremony. I watched in awe as an employee received an award for thirty years of service. I was shocked that someone had worked at the same company for thirty years. When he received his award, I couldn’t help but notice that he looked very weary. It seemed like his job had taken an immense toll on his joy for life. I felt terrified that I too would end up as that same burned out person. I couldn’t imagine wasting the best years of my life feeling so lifeless and unfulfilled, just so I could scrape together enough money for rent and food.
Fourth, I was extremely depressed. Every day I would sit alone in my office and work on the computer. I felt very lonely, isolated, and extremely unsatisfied. I was constantly searching for a better life.
I tried to find some relief from my miserable work life by changing companies multiple times. After just one year, I quit my job in San Diego and accepted a job in Central California. Over the next four years, I worked for two different companies. Yet, none of these changes helped me overcome my restlessness and dissatisfaction. I was making a very nice salary, yet money wasn’t enough for me.
Eventually, I landed a job in Maui, Hawaii - my dream location! However, even living on Maui didn’t soothe my troubled soul. I had fantasies of quitting, but I had no clue how to make ends meet without a job. I put on a happy face and tried to make the best of it, yet I still had this nagging feeling that I was supposed to be doing something else.
I felt trapped.
Every day, as I dragged myself to work, I constantly pleaded with the Universe: “Please, please, please show me my purpose in life.” I knew without a doubt that I wasn’t living my true calling. I desperately needed some answers because I couldn’t continue like that much longer. Even though I had great employers and made great money, I felt depressed and discouraged. I knew I was way off-track and I felt like my Spirit was dying. Yet I had absolutely no clue how to actually find my purpose.
As many people say, the Universe answers our prayers in unexpected ways. Perhaps the Universe grew weary of my constant begging, because, little did I know, my purpose was about to find me.
The Universe Says the Craziest Things
As an attempt to counter the painful social isolation I felt at my job, I enrolled in massage school after work. We studied various healing modalities, including Shiatsu, energy healing, and Hawaiian Lomi Lomi. As it turned out, I loved energy healing! Energy healing is a hands-on healing technique, where the practitioner channels energy, also known as “Qi,” “Prana,” or “life force energy,” to facilitate healing. I was so fascinated by this life force energy that I spent hours playing with the Qi coming from my hands. I also started to feel the energy coming from people and seeing the auras around some people. I knew instinctively, in my heart, that energy healing, had the potential to create miracles and heal almost anything! Likewise, the Universe must have noticed my excitement, because shortly after I discovered life force energy, the Universe spoke to me and said:
Energy healing is your life purpose.
My response? I thought the Universe was crazy. First of all, up until then, I didn’t even know the Universe talked. Second, in the year 2000, energy healing was this bizarre fringe idea very few people believed in. And third, how could I possibly make a living doing energy healing? This whole idea seemed absurd, irrational, and impractical. Yet, despite my misgivings about the sanity of the Universe, I secretly admitted to myself that the idea of doing energy healing full time was very exciting.
Shortly after the Universe supposedly informed me of my life purpose, I attended a lecture about a particular modality of energy healing called Quantum-Touch ®. Richard Gordon, the Founder of Quantum-Touch, was giving the lecture and offering free energy healing demonstrations. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I had just met the man that would completely turn my life upside down and on its ear. I felt incredibly drawn to connect with Richard and learn more.
Soon after the lecture, I attended Richard’s Quantum-Touch workshop in Honolulu. Richard’s vision with Quantum-Touch was to help people recognize the value and impact of their love. I felt incredibly excited! I instantly fell in love with both Richard and his mission. Again, the Universe must have picked up on my love for Quantum-Touch because after the workshop, I received yet another very clear message:
My next step was to become the CEO of Quantum-Touch!
Now I was fully convinced that the Universe was insane. I had just met Richard. How was I going to convince him that the Universe told me that I was supposed to run his company? This whole idea seemed even wackier than my apparent life purpose. First of all, his company was in California and I lived on Maui. Second, he didn’t have any job openings. And third, Richard was a complete stranger! Yet despite my misgivings, I had to admit to myself that this idea really excited me!
Leap of Insanity
I’m quitting to pursue my dream of not working here.
A few weeks later, I was on an airplane on my way to Santa Cruz California, the headquarters of Quantum-Touch. I had just quit my secure job with a steady paycheck to act upon the musings of an absurd Universe. I questioned my sanity. Who in their right mind, quits a cushy job on Maui with a large paycheck and benefits? But despite my leap of insanity, I couldn’t be happier. I had finally followed my Heart.
As a witness to my leap of craziness, my Mom was also questioning the mental health of her normally level-headed daughter. “Are you sure you know what you are doing?” she asked when I called her from Santa Cruz. She continued, “Any plans to get a job?” The truth is, I really didn’t have a plan. I spent all of my time hanging out with Richard. I had no idea where this would lead.
When I arrived in Santa Cruz, Quantum-Touch was on the brink of going out of business. Richard had been traveling the world, speaking, and teaching workshops. He decided to take a much needed break from travel, and unfortunately, when he did, the revenue in the company fell to almost zero.
And then something magical happened…
Not long after Richard stopped traveling, the CEO of Quantum-Touch called me and said, “I need to get a real job.” She wanted the exact type of job that I just left – a secure job, with a steady paycheck and benefits, at a successful company. She wanted to quit Quantum-Touch, and I could fully understand her need to jump off a sinking ship. She asked if I would like to take over as CEO and I said “Yes,” without knowing what I was agreeing to! I had no background in customer service, no training in accounting, and no real experience running a business. I didn’t even know how to properly answer a customer phone call. I felt totally exhilarated and terrified, at the same time! I was excited by my new role as CEO, yet incredibly scared about the future.
Will my new job work out financially?
Did I have what it takes to be a CEO?
Would I regret leaving my secure job behind?
After my death-defying leap of faith, would I land safely?
“Anything I’ve ever done that ultimately was worthwhile initially scared me to death.”
A leap of faith can be scary! How do we know that the potential upside is worth the risk?
If we want to arrive at the euphoric, fun, and rewarding parts in life, the Universe requires us to dig deep within and take a leap of faith. Yet, for many of us, our fear holds us back. It’s safer to sit on the couch, rather than fly through the air like a maniac, relying on precise timing of someone who is hanging upside down and swinging from a bar! Likewise, it seems much easier to tolerate a boring job, rather than sacrifice our security, take a risk, and do what we love. If we take a leap, how do we know that we will land safely? The problem is, we don’t know if we will land at all! It’s no wonder why our fear gets in the way!
I used to admonish myself for allowing my fear to get the best of me. For example, even after five years of practicing the flying trapeze, I simply could not overcome my fear of heights. Everyone else seemed so fearless and brave. Why couldn’t I move past this fear? I would judge my fear, deny my fear, try in vain to overcome my fear, or push it away. I realized that the harder I would push it away, the more intensely the fear would remain, like persistent hungry kittens, begging for food. It reminds me of the expression, “What we resist, persists.”
My self-depreciating relationship with my own fear completely changed after a few words of wisdom from one of my trapeze instructors. He had performed on the flying trapeze countless times and was a catcher the Ringling Brothers Circus, so he had a lot of experience with fear. His words have always stuck in my mind:
The goal isn’t to eliminate the fear, but to be operational with the fear present.
What a relief! I wasn’t alone in my fear! I realized that my fear was neither a character flaw nor something I needed to “conquer.” I finally gave myself permission to accept my fear.
We don’t need to endlessly berate ourselves if we’re afraid to take a leap of faith. We just need to feel compelled by something greater than our fear. Fear may come along for the ride, but it’s not allowed to drive. And if fear wins, it simply means it's time to go back to WHY we want to do something in the first place.
In my case, I was so inspired by energy healing, that I felt compelled to take a leap of faith, no matter how crazy it seemed. My love was stronger than my fear.
Life After the Leap
My great love for the flying trapeze often competed with my intense feelings of frustration and irritation, especially while practicing one painstaking skill in particular: “The return.”
After the leap of faith, and the thrill of being caught, the flyer must now safely swing out with the catcher, perform a 180 degree turn, catch the fly bar, and return back to the platform. The return is difficult and yet not glamorous at all. No one pays a lot of attention to it, yet every trapeze artist must master it. I was particularly annoyed by the return because it constantly chipped away at my enthusiasm. It tormented me like an unrequited love, sucking up countless hours of my time, yet rewarding me with mere scraps of occasional satisfaction.
Even if I successfully beat the odds to make the catch, I could never just relax afterward, breathe a sigh of relief, and bask in the glow of my high-flying achievement. The death-defying, heart stopping treacherous leap of faith isn’t enough. Now there’s another perilous (yet thankless!) trick to perform.
It’s funny how trapeze mimics life.
You see, I was under the impression that a leap of faith would instantly result in a fairy tale life, filled with rainbows and butterflies. I thought that following my Heart would immediately bestow me with financial and spiritual blessings. However, I discovered that this wasn’t the case. The leap of faith wasn’t enough! In the immortal words of Robert Frost I still had “miles to go before I sleep.”
For more information and to download a free excerpt from Spiritual and Broke, please go to www.jennifernoeltaylor.com
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