I used to think I was brave. I have since learned that that is not the case.
I don’t know what changed. Instead of jumping headfirst into whatever situation presents itself without a second thought to the consequences, now I can’t jump at all. I over-worry so much beforehand that the thought of my feet leaving the ground scares me too much to even attempt the leap.
My brain shackles my feet to the ground like tree roots while my heart pulls at the chains, screaming for freedom.
“Jump!” My heart commands, “Just do it already!” My adrenaline activates, feet scooting closer to the edge, deep breaths preparing for the fall, but then it insensitively adds the phrase, “What’s the worse that could happen?”
That is when my brain interrupts, having overheard the conversation and needing to add its two cents. “What’s the worse that could happen you ask? Well I’ll tell you…” and then proceeds to rattle off all the hypothetical consequences of why it is such a bad idea.
My heart patiently waits for the list to end, intently listening and understanding the reasons for each point of threat but not feeding into the worry. It argues, mockingly, “What if, what if, what if?: Who cares?!” it emphasizes with an irritated snort. “Everything has the potential to lead to something disastrous but you can’t let that stop you! Because it also has the potential to lead to something magical and wonderfully life-changing. If you never leave the ground you will never have the opportunity for something new. You want adventure, don’t you? Then you have to jump!”
My body reacts to this argument with spastic toes like worms wriggling free of soil, just waiting for the moment they’re put to the test, eager to make the leap off that cliff. But my know-it-all brain hears that key word “Jump” and goes off on another rant of why I should just stay where I am, silencing my toes, heart, and all other senses. “It’s safe here. You know what to expect,” it tells me. “The unknown is scary, so just stay where you’re comfortable. Or, at the very least, thoroughly research your next move so you know what it entails before you attempt it. Know what you are getting yourself into.”
Now, most times this heart/brain conflict is useful. It prevents me from the childish acts of teenage rebellion I had grown so fond of: all those little acts of deviance that served no purpose other than hedonism. It helps limit the undesirable consequences of potentially ‘messing up my life’. Because to simply act on all of your desires is a dangerous thing to do, whether physically, mentally, socially, financially, etc…
But, on the other hand, to never act on your desires is equally as dangerous. Well, maybe not exactly ‘dangerous’ per say, but it is very restraining. It limits the opportunity for something new. That ‘new’ could be positive or negative, you never know. YOU NEVER KNOW UNTIL YOU TRY.
Letting my heart decide is never an easy thing because all those worries that my brain points out make a lot of sense. Choosing to ignore those concerns is impossible. So, instead, I recruit my secondary brain: the one that argues with the first. I let them duke it out but allow my heart to act as compass. (Maybe the ‘secondary brain’ belongs to the heart; the ‘emotional’ brain, giving voice to its desires in a valid debating style so that it has the chance to rival the ‘primary’, or rational brain.)
This goes on indefinitely. Back and forth, back and forth, emotional vs. rational. But no one ever wins. So, in the end, I have to choose which one to listen to while taking advice from both. It requires a conscious effort on my part to decide on one way of thinking, which brain to listen to. When one starts to get the upper hand I have to remind myself of the other’s points. Both are valid. Both make sense. Both are me.
I suppose it comes down to the level of desire. If the act at hand, the one in question that causes this rivalry of brain and heart, if it is worth it to you than the heart will overpower anything the brain can conjure and you must jump.
I have been listening to my rational brain for far too long and am feeling stuck because of this. So as of this moment I am going to try to take advice from my heart and jump more often. Sensible mental cliff-diving, I call it.