Once there lived a village of creatures along the bottom of a great crystal river. The current of the river swept silently over them all - young and old, rich and poor, good and evil, the current going its own way, knowing only its own crystal self.
Each creature in its own manner clung tightly to the twigs and rocks at the river bottom, for clinging was their way of life, and resisting the current was what each had learned from birth.
But one creature said at last, 'I am tired of clinging. Though I cannot see it with my eyes, I trust that the current knows where it is going. I shall let go, and let it take me where it will. Clinging, I shall die of boredom.'
The other creatures laughed and said, 'Fool! Let go, and that current you worship will throw you tumbled and smashed across the rocks, and you shall die quicker than boredom!'
But the one heeded them not, and taking a breath did let go, and at once was tumbled and smashed by the current across the rocks.
Yet in time, as the creature refused to cling again, the current lifted him free from the bottom, and he was bruised and hurt no more.
And the creatures downstream, to whom he was a stranger, cried, 'See a miracle! A creature like ourselves, yet he flies! See the Messiah, come to save us all!'
And the one carried in the current said, 'I am no more Messiah than you. The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare let go. Our true work is this voyage, this adventure.'
But they cried the more, 'Saviour!' all the while clinging to the rocks, and when they looked again he was gone, and they were left alone making legends of a Saviour.
- Richard Bach, from "Illusions"
Most of us have a lot of big buts in our life about why we cling to the known. “But what if I lose the money?” “But what if she says no?” “But what if I get hurt?” “But what if it doesn’t work out?” “But what if I fail?” In guarding our Big But story, we cling to the known, living what often amounts to a quiet life of desperation—clinging to the known— stagnated, fearful, and “safe”.
There’s an understanding in psychology that when people come into therapy they always come because they want change. They then fight the change they came to get help for. They cling to the known. We are all in a sense addicts. We cling to our over eating, our passivity, our rage, our laziness, our alcohol, even our depression and anxiety. Why we cling to these things can be deeply unconscious. My over eating I cling to is creating fat that protects me from being sexually abused again. My laziness protects me from risking, failing, and proving to myself that I really am no good. The stories around my anxiety keep me from leaving the house and being hurt by others. My depression keeps me dependent on others to take care of me -- making me feel cared for. What will I do without my food, my laziness, my depression, my anxiety? I will have to change, risk, let go of the past and venture into the unknown. For many of us the risk of doing work that would let go of our past feels too scary. We cling to the painful known instead of risking the pain associated with the unknown. As Carl Jung said, “All neurosis is a result of the lack of legitimate suffering.” We would often rather suffer the pain of addiction, which is neurotic, circular, and life threatening than risk the life giving pain of doing our recovery work.
We can even cling to the safe, painful way of living while seeing others who have risked the pain of change as “gifted”, from a “privileged family”, exceptionally good looking, a “sports god”, a musical “genius”, or otherwise “special”. These stories give us excuses to stay clinging to the known. Since these people are so innately “special” we don’t have to risk the pain of going for our own greatness. When the actual stories of these “special” people’s lives comes to light what is discovered time and again is some natural talent (which we all have for something in life) but then tremendous work ethic and risk taking that excels them above the fray. Magic Johnson got up before school to practice basketball and then went back at it until late into the night after his last class. Einstein worked out the theory of relativity while working as a patent clerk and continued to work until his dying day. Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard and used to sleep under his desk while building Microsoft. Marianne Williamson began her Course In Miracles lectures in her apartment. Millions of addicts have left their addictions behind by risking the work of recovery. John Bradshaw came to his career as a best selling author in the field of psychology when after being hospitalized again for alcoholism, he stood before his doctors and uttered the prophetic words, “I’ll do anything to get better.”
Do you have Big Buts running your life? What are you ready to let go? What stories, habits, addictions, excuses have run their course so thoroughly that you are willing say, “I’ll do anything to change.”
As Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love is quoted, “I’ve never seen any life transformation that didn’t begin with the person in question finally getting tired of their own bullshit.”
Below Steve Harvey explains it all for you.
You Gotta Jump!