This is letter two.
It is about the scariest, narrowest bridge I ever had to cross.
My husband has, for many years now, taken extreme delight in randomly invading my space and declaring that he has found “our next Couple’s Adventure!!” He then proceeds to show me a video of humans engaged in some egregiously dangerous outdoor “activity” that they are not only partaking in by their own free will, but also likely paying for the privilege to do so.
Highlights have included: idiots sleeping in nylon tents suspended miles in the air off the side of a cliff… idiots riding bikes along twelve-inch-wide crests of snowy mountain ridges… idiots bungee jumping over deep canyons. Ex-set-er-ah.
I am not outdoors-y. (My sister gave me a card on my 35th birthday that has an illustration of a woman reclining in her cozy bed with the caption “I love not camping” and I framed it.) In addition, one of my personal policies is that, while I accept the fact that Death will come for me, I am not doing anything to willingly meet It half way.
Thus, when I mention crossing a “scary, narrow bridge” I am definitely speaking metaphorically.
I can sense a few readers just abandoned this letter, disappointed… but I assure you that the bridge I am talking about was absolutely narrow and scary. And I know a few of you have come upon (and even crossed) one just like it, too.
I’ve named it The Bridge to Your Next.
There you are, living your life, and one day you start to get a sensation, a notion that something lies ahead. And then, one day, when you’re out for a mental stroll, you come upon this bridge. Or it could be that you are just there, living your life, and suddenly a lightening bolt of inspiration hits and the next thing you know you turn a corner and, voilà, there’s the bridge.
It’s one of those long rope bridges made with wooden slats that are spaced just far enough apart so that you have an excellent view into the deep, dark crevasse over which the bridge is strung. (If you’re having trouble picturing it, ask my hubbie, I’m sure he has a video he can show you.)
And, although the bridge is not inviting, it is an invitation; it’s the route – a project or experience – that leads to a more expanded version of your life, to the Next version of you.
Did I mention it is also narrow? Indeed. There are no other options of getting across that chasm. This is not a multiple choice situation.
That said, you don’t have to cross the bridge. Ever. You can totally choose to stay on the solid ground that you are already on and live a genuinely wonderful and full life. I mean that. The bridge is just an option. And, if you do choose to pass it by, I believe you will be presented with other bridges in the future… invitation after invitation to your Next.
But here’s the most important thing to understand: if you choose to pass your first bridge by because you are hoping that next one will look less scary, it won’t.
The bridges will never be less scary. They are all of the same ilk: risky-looking. You know in your bones that you’re going to feel wobbly, uncertain, and uncomfortable while crossing – and maybe a little nauseous from time to time (especially when you hit the middle and feel it start to sway). It’s the kind of bridge where you really want to watch someone go across it first… but, alas, it exists for you and you alone.
My first bridge was the writing of my audio book (the full story of which I tell here). No one was asking me (or paying me) to write it. I didn’t know if anyone was ever going to read it. All I knew – what kept my butt in the seat writing and what motivated me to invest almost five figures in the project – was that I knew would live one life if I did not write it and I would live a different, more expanded life if I did write it.
And it felt scary and risky to put that much time, effort, money, heart, sweat, and energy into, like, just an idea that I had – basically an expensive, time-consuming expression of myself.
So I stared at the bridge for awhile.
I stayed and stared until my feelings about the situation started to shift. Continuing to live on my current side of the bridge began to feel just a little bit scarier and a little bit riskier than trying to cross it did. My curiosity about my Next Me eventually (slightly) eclipsed my fear of perishing on the bridge, and that’s when I took my first step.
And the most valuable reward that anyone who crosses one of these bridges gets is the knowledge that they are crossable. The next Bridge to Your Next will still raise the hairs on the back of your neck and completely freak you out, but you will now know that it is crossable – and worth crossing.
Wishing you the very best,