In scuba diving, there exists the concept of going “into the blue” – away from shore and into wide-open ocean. This kind of dive requires you to let go of the anchors and rocks in your life that keep you grounded and stuck where you are. You float up in the water, and the current takes you where it will. The first time I tried to calibrate my eyes into the vast blueness of the open water before me, panic set in. Everything looked the same; I saw nothing … but blue. No rocks, no shore, no benchmarks or safety nets. This was the Galapagos, who the heck knows what might be swimming around in those waters! As the group swam away from shore, I remained death-gripped to the rocks below me. My breath quickened, as I attempted to psych myself up. Tiff, let go now. Everyone is leaving. You’ll die alone here. LET GO! My fears locked me in place, and I watched everyone else swim away. Now or never, Tiff. We’re looking for Whale Sharks, not staying stuck to the rocks. As the group got further into the blue, I tentatively opened my fingers and felt a rush as the water took me. No turning back now.
As we got further and further from shore, I lost sight of my little rock perch. I stopped looking back, actually. There’s little point trying to hold onto something you’ve left long ago; it just keeps you from seeing what’s in front of you. And for me right then, we were out looking for something magic. The excitement of the hunt (not for reals, we don’t support that) and of being so small in such a vast setting felt FREE. This wasn’t scary, it was exhilarating! And even though we didn’t find the Whale Sharks we set out for, the promise of something special being held in that vast nothingness captivated me. This crazy, confusing blue, where the magic can happen at any time.
In August, I quit my high-paying, prestigious law firm job. I didn’t (and still don’t) have another job lined up or any notion of what I might want to do instead. I just knew it wasn’t that. I was stuck, hanging onto my legal career with that same foolish death-grip. Law was the devil I knew, and staying was less scary than the vast unknown blue. I justified every year I stayed miserable and numbed myself in order to remain in place. The price of that “safety” keeping me miserably low, away from my full potential. I was no longer happy. I hadn’t been for years, but it took me 8 years of misery to finally just let go.
And, the currents of life gently pushed me away from the rocks, into the unknown. I’m still swimming out there now, in the swirling blue waters that are my day to day life now. Between yoga poses, scuba dive trips, visiting friends and family that I haven’t had a chance to spend quality time with in years, and even just sitting down to read a book, I’m living and loving the life of uncertainty, searching for little doses of magic each and every day. I’m drifting further and further from the life I knew and trusting myself to keep swimming out where I have no reference. I open myself up to new experiences everyday, and while some stick and others fade, the important thing is that I’m no longer afraid to try. I’ve traded in my stagnation-cubicle life for the promise of the vague something magic out there. And I am learning to trust that what waits out there is better than anything I can hold onto near to shore.
So, while it’s scary to let go of what you know, the scene you’re sick of, and try something new, that’s also the only way that we can start to reach magic. As they say, a ship in the harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for. This is my year to sail out into the sunset, take infinite leaps of faith, and find my true self somewhere in the blue.
Thought up: scuba diving in the Galapagos
Written up: from my kitchen table in DTLA, right before leaving for 2 months in Asia.