I’ve been thinking about leaps.
Having grown up with a parent who kept a bucket list long before it was the trendy thing to do (and certainly long before Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman popularized it in the 2006 film by Rob Reiner), it never occurred to me that listing out what you wanted and needed to do before you died was an odd thing. My mom called it (and still calls it, actually) her list of, “things to do before I die.” I like that it’s now becoming more common; it’s good to have an end goal.
I was, coincidentally, watching The Bachelor (I know, I know…) when I was inspired by a concept that they brought up:
A leap list.
While a Bucket List is supposed to be a list of things that happen before you, “kick the bucket,” a “Leap List” is a list of things before you have a major life change: a big birthday, having children, or graduating from school. It’s all the things you want to do before you make a big leap.
I like it.
I recently came to the realization that it’s been four years since I finished university. That means (and now you’re doing the math) that I have officially been out of school for as long as I was in it.
So I figure that, at 26, turning 30 is as “leap” worthy as any other arbitrarily chosen milestone. Particularly since it doesn’t look like I’m getting married or having children any time soon.
I haven’t decided on a complete list of leap-worth things (though something like running a half marathon or seeing the bison may be on it), but I actually completed one just yesterday.
Friends, I am blonde.
Like, legitimately, bleachy bleachy blonde.
If you know me (even a little) you’ll know that it’s a big deal. Because, let’s face it, I’m a brunette kind of gal. I read lots of books. I avoid direct sunlight if possible. My favorite season is the fall. I listen to classical music without being forced. I’m not exactly a stereotypical blonde.
But for years I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have blonde hair (and, truth be told, I was a very blonde baby), so I figured, what the heck. And now my first leap list item (ok, it’s still a work in progress and getting the color just right will take a few more visits to the salon) can be officially crossed off. Neat.
Wondering is great. But wondering “what if” is the worst kind of wonder out there. It seems to me that leaping - literally, proverbially, or otherwise, is easier when you’ve taken baby steps to get there. We can’t stop forward progression; change is constant, but we can prepare ourselves for the big moments, so that when we arrive at the precipice, we have the muscle to boldly, proudly, happily take the leap.
The new hair with a very tired, poorly lit me.
“To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there.” - Kofi Annan
Have you seen it? I’m looking for the ball, I seemed to have dropped it somewhere.
Life these days feels like a mad attempt to keep myself afloat. Just above water, but still not swimming the way I want.
But today, today I needed to find the ball, pick it up and play the game. Today was kind of a big day, if only for me.
Today was the day I was supposed to come home. Up until this point, I was supposed to be in France: teaching, living, being. But I haven’t been. I haven’t been in France. The plans changed.
I ran today.
Actually, it was sprinting. I did sprints this morning to practice for the Ultimate Frisbee league that I am in. At 6 this morning, I was at the gym, doing sprints on the treadmill for my league.
I was up at 6AM and not 9 or 10 AM because I had to go to work today.
And for those reasons, today was a quiet celebration. Why? Because in France, a day like today couldn’t exist for me. That was goal. In France, where I was, when I was and with whom I was, I couldn’t possibly have done what I did today. So today was worth noting.
Leaving France was hard.
Deciding to leave France was hard. I’ve never quit anything before it was over: never left, even when it didn’t feel right to stay. So deciding to leave France, rather than continue on the slow path of physical, emotional and spiritual deterioration, was a hard decision. But in the end, leaving France and coming home wasn’t hard.
Sometimes I forget that I was even there. Rather, most days, it feels like it was only just a dream. A distant memory punctuating the reality of my life here.
But here’s the thing.
Just as I don’t regret having come home when I did and why I did, I don’t regret having gone to France either.
You see, France was a bridge. France was a moment in time; an opportunity to move on, to let go and to get distance from where I was, in order to embrace where I am now.
Sometimes in life, we all need to find our own France. Sometimes we need to take a moment to breathe and to change our scenery. Sometimes we need to challenge ourselves, lose ourselves, take the leap into the unknown –throw it all out the window and chase whatever it is we think we need. Because sometimes what we think we want, what we think we need, what we think is missing isn’t what we thought at all. But if we never go to France – never
test the water – we’ll never be able to let go of the dream of what it could have, would have, should have been. We’ll never be able to move on and see how, after all the heartache and break, that we are, after all, stronger in the broken places.
So today I sprinted and went to the gym, worked and made plans with friends. Today, leaving France became ok. Because I left when it was time - not when the timer was up; because in doing so I made a goal for myself that in this interim I would make the life I wanted to make. The life that wasn’t possible there. And while I still have
miles to go before I sleep, today was a good day, because I made it exactly what I wanted it to be.