It was a puzzle that I couldn’t figure out. I simply did not have enough information. My three-year-old self was standing at the top of the staircase that was just outside of my bedroom. At the time, we lived in one of the A-frame houses that were built en mass to house the soldiers that were returning from the war.
The ceilings in these houses were ten feet high and the staircase reflected that. It was made of solid wood, as was the remainder of the house, and ended in a small landing that also opened into the living room and exited to the outside.
The question was a simple one. If I jumped, would I make it to the landing? I knew that gravity would take me down. What I couldn’t determine was whether or not I could make it out far enough to miss the stairs and land at the bottom. There was only one way to find out. I jumped.
I was elated. I caught enough air to get the sensation that I was going to make it. It felt as though I was in the air for an extended period of time and I would never have to walk down the stairs again. This was thrilling and exciting.
I suppose it could be argued that I could’ve remained safe and unsatisfied, forever wondering whether or not I would’ve made it, but that is so much less fulfilling.
The joy in living comes from taking chances like this. There is no doubt that I could’ve hurt myself, but aren’t we hurting ourselves by always staying as safe as possible? How much of your life have you spent doing exactly the same things that you did the day before and the day before that? You may live to be 110 but does that count if most of those years were repeats of the year before?
Then I hit. The momentum from the jump took me the rest of the way. I tumbled all of the way to the landing. No worse for wear, I felt proud of myself for answering my question and that I had set a great mystery to rest. If I had flown over the staircase and made it to the bottom safely it would have been a great triumph and everyone would agree it was worth the risk, but wasn’t it anyway?
This willingness to take a great leap has brought all kinds of opportunity into my life. What do you wish you had the “guts” to try? Take another route to work. Go to a new type of event. Wear a different colour. You will be amazed how much more stimulating you will find your life if you try something that you’ve always wanted to try. Even if you hit the last few stairs and tumble to the bottom, at least you would have experienced the exhilaration of being suspended in the air, if only for a moment.