Posted: October 27, 2009 in thriving
Tags: , , , , ,

break through momentThere is a moment, when there is no going back.

You are in the air. You are falling down a cliff. You are falling for thousands of feet. 

How do you get into such a no-going-back position? You hike to a really high spot and jump off.

There are people who jump off huge cliffs wearing wing suits.  When they reach a speed of 140 miles per hour, they fly, kind of.  But it is not flying, as much as it is controlled falling, fun falling! They fall two feet for every one foot they travel forwards. Then before death, they pull a parachute.

flying menThese “bird men” are crazy, risking, adventure lovers. They are thriving, and having a great time besides. After 60 Minutes filmed one of their jumps in Norway, one of them remarked: “Nobody on the planet, had more fun than us today.”

I love to fly. My favorite plane ride was in a Cessna in Alaska, up a glacier and over Glacier Bay. But, I’ve noticed one subtle thing about adventure flying; if you want to fly, then you have to get on the plane. In Alaska, there is a lot of flying and quite a few plane crashes. If this scares you, then to fly, you have to have a break through moment. You may be afraid, but you do it anyway.

I remember my first jump off a high dive into a pool when I was a kid. I thought, “This might kill me.” I died in the air. I came back to life in the water, “Whoohoo!”

History is full of cliff jumpers.  Moses killed a man in Egypt and fled. Then he went back to Egypt and liberated his people. His decision to come out of hiding and confront a Pharaoh was a brake through moment.

Ester, a totally unknown Jewish beauty,  became a Persian queen. She had never been a queen. It was dangerous. But she had a break through moment when she went before the king, uncalled, and pleaded for her people’s lives.

This inexperienced, unknown gorgeous girl wanted to fly, so she jumped off a political cliff.

Some people have a past that has makes them afraid of the cliff. But history has been made by people who went past their pasts and jumped.

When Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw some good Jewish boys, Simon and his brother Andrew fishing.

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said. The historical record says that at once they left their family business and went after him. Peter and Andrew made a major life decision quickly. They didn’t take years at the edge of the cliff.

They didn’t follow the family business to their own fortune. They emancipated themselves. Perhaps as good Jews they had been told in various ways, “Don’t do anything rash.” But when they went after Jesus they were rash. The history books are full of  rashly successful people.

As a little girl, Drew Barrymore was our ET star. She charmed America. She believed and we did too.

Then came the clubs her mom took her too, the alcohol, the drugs. She was in rehab by 15. It came to her that she shouldn’t  keep living with parents who took her to clubs and let her use drugs. In a legal process, she was emancipated from her parents. Then came more successful movies, Never Been Kissed, Ever After, Charlie’s Angels. Now she is a director.  Her emancipation was a break through moment. After that, she  was able to fly on her own.

Peter and John did the same, leaving the family business. Peter,  in making this jump, became the leader of a movement, a director in a new film that would sweep the world. “Can I do this?” he must have asked himself. And then he stood and delivered. He switched identities in a rash way, “at once,”  without delay.

Why do some people come to edge of a fun, adventurous, life-changing cliff, and not jump? Perhaps they have been playing it safe for so long, jumping isn’t an option.  Perhaps they are afraid to be successful.  Perhaps they are tired, depressed, hurt.  

Thrive? Fly? They have to jump.

The bird men, Moses, Esther, Peter had had amazing lives. They made the turn, walked to the edge and leaned into the air.

How did that happen? Each one had a break through experience, a moment when they chose to move past the past and risked something new. The best  life includes a willingness to respond to a possible adventure, to go into action when the opportunity arises.

Here is truth: Believing something can happen and doing nothing to make it happen is worthless.

At certain moments in life, I believe that we hear a voice saying, this is it, your time, take the jump, surrender to this experience. Then we have a  chance to fall and fly. By risking, we can set in play a momentum, created by a decision, and something fast and good can flow from that.

Some jumps matter more than others. I believe that the best jumps come down to catapulting ourselves in sync, in formation, in conjunction with others.  Every person who has changed the world in a good way has jumped with someone and toward someone. I think the best jump isn’t the lunge into thin, existential  air, but the purposeful drop toward someone else’s benefit.

Antonio Stradivarius was a great violin maker.  After Stradivarius died in 1737, no more great Stradivarius violins were produced. Why? He left no apprentices in his workshop. He didn’t pass on the secrets. 

Each one of us is a Stradivarius,  a unique, cultural, idiosyncratic expression of something that  can inspire, help and change the world. But it dies with us if we don’t pass it on.

I went to Mexicali  recently with friends. Mexicali is a town of a million peoples south of El Centro. We drove from San Diego for two and one-half hours to get there.  Mexico was in the 90’s that day in October.  Friends navigated; once in Mexico, I had  no idea where we were. I was flying.

P1000675We arrived at an escuela. We were there to help, and so we were given the job of painting a classroom.  When I was about to pour paint, ten Mexican teenagers showed up to help. It is a dangerous thing to give ten teens  paint rollers and a continuous supply of  paint. They painted themselves, each other, the floor and all the walls. They did a beautiful job. And then they cleaned the spilled paint off the floor.  What a pleasure, seeing gentle, beautiful altruistic young people give, serve, care.

And it wasn’t all work. When we finished we celebrated what was right with the world. We ate huge, grilled slices of carne assada in the shade of a bean tree.  Rocking music, played by a band from a San Diego church, filled the spaces between us.

It was good. And then we headed for home.  Up the El Centro valley and into the hills, the sunset flamed on the electrical wires strung along the road. Once in the mountains, we passed through a land of glowing rocks, twisting Ocotillo, and stately barrel cactus. 

It was a spectacular ending to an international, friendship adventure. Nobody on the planet that day had more fun than my friends and I who went to Mexicali. Why? We broke through. We jumped. And we flew.

The best life is no arm chair life. Sitting at the cliff’s edge is missing the fun. Jump life, risk life, reach life, fly life is the best life. Cliff jumping is emancipating.

Yet for some people, as they hear this, voices counter in frantic, parental whispers … be careful, be responsible, preserve resources, be cautious.

Of course, this is the wise parental voice, working in so many of our heads.  To be sure, safety is a consideration in every choice. Certain things should not be done by certain people at certain times. Responsibility, caution, calculated risk, all beautiful things.

But know this. If you live a life of fear, then you will on reap a life of fear. And fear? It is one of the worst crops you can ever hope to pack into your mental barn.  Fear is the absolutely worst motivator in the universe. Fear opened Pandora’s box. Out of fear came and continues to come self-torture,  oppression of others, apathy, isolation and paralysis.

Get a grip. You were made for more. There is a Moses in you, an Esther, a crazy successful Peter. Bird men circle inside you waiting for their time.   

Make a choice. Emancipate. Break through. Share your secret.  Thrive. Jump. Fly. Now!



  1. laurelhasper says:

    i’m listening to this sermon as i write this…

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