People say that they’re going to quit their jobs to pursue their dreams. They say it like it’s going to be easy. As if, once you have more time, you can be whoever you want to be. Quitting your job is like jumping off of a cliff into the ocean.
Standing at the peak of a dry, cracked cliff, you stare at the liquid gold below you as the sun begins to set on the sea. The water looks warm, like a comforting blanket. You don’t know why, but you want to jump. Yet, you have thousands of doubts running through your mind. What if there are rocks just under the surface? What if there is a strong current? What about sharks? What if you forget how to swim? Then there is just the plain old fear of heights.
Once you work up the courage to take the plunge, the jump is tantalizing. Your stomach leaves your body, along with all of your fear and anxiety. You’re airborne and no one can touch you. You’re a bird, floating on the evening breeze. You do a ballerinas dance, because you’re weightless. Then there is the cool, cool kiss of the water as it presses against your skin. Although slightly painful, it feels good. It feels like you’re finally awake.
As you tread in the water, you glance around looking for sharp rocks and sharks. It’s too good to be true when you see no creatures lurking or shadows reaching for you. You smile to yourself thinking of how fearful you were of the gentle waters below the cliff. You open your eyes under the water to see a turquoise-stained sanctuary. Beautiful shells, unusual plants and billions of tiny sand particles blossoming on the ocean floor. This world, unexplored and untouched by anyone else.
Slowly, you realize that you are no longer refreshingly cool, but freezing cold. Your eyes sting from the burn of the salt. You begin to swim towards your exit when you realize that you are surrounded by pointed cliffs. Glancing around, it becomes obvious that there are no sandy beaches for you to rest on. You swim back and forth along the shoreline looking for some sort of rock formation to scale. There aren’t any, so you paddle back to your original cliff.
It’s getting dark now and it becomes evident that you will be spending the night in these frigid waters. Still, there appears to be no danger approaching. In fact, the ocean is silent with no sign of man or beast. The night air rustles around you in the form of gentle waves. It is cold, quiet and still. As the night pushes on, you stare up at the cliff that you jumped from. You memorize the vibrant grassy hills and the chalky brown peaks. Why did you jump from that cliff in the first place?
You knew every inch of the land and what it had to offer. You were bored, but at least you weren’t slowly drowning. In a gradual epiphany, it becomes obvious that you believed the ocean could offer you happiness. A moment of sorrow settles around you as you acknowledge that nothing could have made you happy. Not the water in the sea, nor the grass on the land, nor the clouds in the sky.
You know that no one else will come to this same cliff and jump off while you’re still treading here. No one can save you, you made a choice. You cannot go back and pretend to conform with those people on that land. You have seen a side of the world that they haven’t and they will no longer understand you. So, you will choose.
You can either die treading in place, staring at a land to which you no longer belong….
or, you can venture further away to find out what it is that you were meant to do.