You know that moment when you just have to let go of the seal and cross the ice on you own? I’m guessing you don’t. Maybe you’re even wondering if I haven’t taken to the bottle a little lately. Let me go back to the start.
I have terrible balance. I trip and fall over flat ground. My experience trying to learn to roller-skate as a kid was very brief and painful. You’ve got the picture.
Still, when I saw the small ice skating ring in the middle of Reykjavik the other day, I decided it was time I learned to Ice Skate. Just like that. I had no plan for the afternoon, the ring was small, empty, tacky as hell with its disco ball and loud music, and it was time for me.
I put on the helmet and skates, put my glasses away (a smart decision) and stayed on my bench till someone kindly explained to me that I had to stand and make my way to the ring somehow, instead of waiting for it to magically appear under me.
Once on the ice, things looked bleak. I don’t need to paint you a picture, right? You’ve all already seen someone trying to keep their balance while the whole universe and the very laws of physics are trying to make that person fall, haven’t you? I clutched the railing and tried to move along, making small steps, slipping and muttering a constant stream of “oh my god, oh my god, come on I can do this, I’m not scared, come on, OH my god, I’m going to die, damn damn damn damn” … the rest is just variations on those words.
Seeing how ridiculous and scared I was, I was offered a kind of clutch usually used by children. It was all orange, I could lean on it while moving along, and it was in the shape of a seal.
Aaaah, that’s the seal! I hear you say.
Quite right. That’s the seal I was putting all my weight on but that I was going to have to let go of. At some point. Not right now.
Because, whatever it is that you’re trying to do, there’s always a moment where you have to let go of the seal. You have to take those first steps on your own, not knowing if you’re going to make it or crash to the ground. No safety net. No seal.
Tomorrow, I’m going to go see my boss and quit my job. I’ve already given my notice to leave my Parisian apartment. I’m moving to a smaller city to stop wasting more than half my money on rent. Because I’m quitting my job and moving, I’m finally going to be able to travel for two full months without interruption, and it’s going to be amazing.
At the end of these two months, my bank account will be empty and I won’t have a job. Or any kind of plan for that matter. It’s going to be scary as hell, just like when I had to let go of that seal and glide away from the railing on my own for the first time. A true leap of faith. Will I fall or will I slide gracefully?
On the ice ring, the answer was neither. I made my way safely to the other side, but definitely not in a graceful manner. Still, when my hand touched the railing again (okay, my whole body slammed into it because I didn’t know how to stop yet), a big smile came onto my face. I had done it! I had found the courage to let go, the confidence to do it on my own!
The feeling was exhilarating. Will it be the same when I find myself on the brink money wise, with only my writings to save me? I have no idea.
But there’s one thing I do know : I won’t regret this move. If I had spent my afternoon refusing to let go of the seal, not even trying, then I would have had regrets. As it is, I might not be anywhere near competing in the ice skating championship, I might have fell twice and twisted my wrist, I might have spent a whole afternoon looking like a complete idiot in the main street of a touristic capital, I still have no regrets. At all.
As I said on the ice : If I fall, I fall. I’ll just have to get up again to get back to where I was at the start.
This feeling, those first steps, I felt them also the first time I traveled solo, and the first time I made a deep confidence to a friend, and every time I made an important life decision or undertook a big project. Of course, I also felt it when I published my first post here. Every time this feeling appeared was the beginning of something new and great.
I might fail, I might fall, but I won’t regret.
What is your seal right now? What is it you need to let go of?