One of my greatest joys during Thanksgiving has always been the reminder to be grateful for my family and friends, for all of the love in my life. This year, I’m also grateful for something else: the courage to take risks. I encourage you, as this year comes to a close, to honor yourself for the risks you have taken in service of your dreams, and to explore what you might be willing to risk in the coming year.
There’s an old story about a man being chased by a tiger. Terrified, he runs as fast as he can until he finds himself at the edge of a cliff. He peers over the edge and sees a branch below. Out of desperation, he lowers himself from the ledge and grabs onto the branch. Hanging there, looking up at the snarling tiger and down at the vast drop, he prays, “Lord please help me, help me. What should I do?” Silence. Then, a deep, resonant voice says, “Let Go.” The man is stunned. “Is there anybody else up there?” he says.
We all fear the unknown, and in some ways, that fear can increase as we age. We get used to knowing what’s best, to familiar places and people, to being in control in our jobs or in our families. And so often, when faced with a scary, new adventure, we’d like someone else to tell us what to do, someone smarter and wiser. And yet, that wise, smart person is actually within us – We can call it Intuition, Inner Wisdom, or Higher Guidance, that part that always knows what to do, even if it means letting go and free-falling into something new. We may not to want to hear or heed it, but that voice is always there.
Last year, I traveled to South Africa to give a talk about Gandhi and his legacy in that country. When I first booked the tickets, I was terrified: How would I travel there alone, without a friend or relative? Would I enjoy the trip? What if something bad happened? I went anyway, and I had an absolute blast: I saw lions and giraffes and hyenas and elephants on safari, I met wonderful people, I listened to rich live music, and yes, I even enjoyed giving my talk.
This year, I booked a trip to Eastern Europe to attend the same conference and give a different talk, this one about Holocaust survivor and physician Viktor Frankl. As I prepare for the trip, I’m nervous, I sometimes feel that pang of fear. Yet as I immerse myself in my research about Frankl, a truly remarkable man, I also feel a growing sense of anticipation and excitement, a powerful sense of being alive.
This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for that. I’m grateful for the ability to follow my intuition into the unknown to discover new truths and experience new wonders. Because that’s the joy of being alive, isn’t it? No matter how old we are, we are always moving forward toward something. So why not let that something be something new, fresh and inspiring?
Thanks Be to You, and Many Blessings,