Quote of the Day: Jumping Off Cliffs

 

“If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business, because we’d be cynical. Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.” — Ray Bradbury

I’m not condoning love affairs, especially if you are married. But everything else that Ray Bradbury says here reminds us that life is full of risks and opportunities. Although many of us prefer not to have to take more risks than necessary, we must take some risks if we don’t want to simply stagnant and stop growing.

I grew up in a family where taking risks didn’t go so well. Both my parents started and failed with their business ventures. My mother, however, finally got the knack of how to be a successful businesswoman. She went from being a bookkeeper in her home, to doing taxes in a rented office, to finally becoming an Enrolled Agent. She’d taken her risks, one determined step at a time, and ended up creating a profitable business; my father was happy to support her work and was a traveling notary public. Most of their risks were calculated, yet one can never know precisely how a venture might go.

I’ve taken my share of risks: I became an independent business writing consultant, and worked at that career for 10 years, then was able to sell it. Then I went back to school for a master’s degree and became an organizational development consultant, focused on communications and conflict (resolving it, not causing it!) In both careers, I had my husband as back-up, so they weren’t exactly like jumping off a cliff financially. But I made plenty of jumps intellectually and emotionally: I didn’t want to fail.

But those worries were my cliffs, my minefields, and I had to learn to press on through my mental roadblocks. If I lost a bid for a project, there’d be another; the world wouldn’t come to an end. If work slowed down, I had to market even harder, and making sales calls was so unpleasant for me. But I had a cause, a purpose in my work, and when people turned me down, I realized (eventually) that it usually wasn’t personal. I jumped off a lot of emotional cliffs, but I always survived and learned a lot about effective sales, but I also learned a tremendous amount about myself. I learned to “build my wings on the way down.”

I am so determined that my life be about growing and learning. It’s almost an obsession, addiction with me. There is so much to learn and at my age, and so little time.

Who knows when my next cliff will appear?

What were the cliffs in your life?

[Photo courtesy of unsplash.com]

Published in Group Writing
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  1. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    You knew this was coming:

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Percival (View Comment):

    You knew this was coming:

    Yeah, I knew! But G-d expects us to be smart enough not to tempt catastrophe, too. At least I think He believes that. Or hopes it.

    • #2
  3. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    You knew this was coming:

    Yeah, I knew! But G-d expects us to be smart enough not to tempt catastrophe, too. At least I think He believes that. Or hopes it.

    There is a big difference between risking the metaphorical cliff which may lead to aa potentially high payoff-your future spouse, a new friend, a successful business – and where the price is usually just failure,  as opposed to thrill seeking on an actual cliff where the risk is usually death. :)

    • #3
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Gossamer Cat (View Comment):
    There is a big difference between risking the metaphorical cliff which may lead to aa potentially high payoff-your future spouse, a new friend, a successful business – and where the price is usually just failure,  as opposed to thrill seeking on an actual cliff where the risk is usually death. :)

    So true, GC! But for some people, taking almost any kind of risk, pursuing any goal outside of the ordinary, guarantees doom. We only need to watch the people who keep wearing masks.

    • #4
  5. Raxxalan Member
    Raxxalan
    @Raxxalan

    Susan Quinn: I’m not condoning love affairs, especially if you are married.

    Unless of course it is with your spouse in which case I recommend it highly.   

    • #5
  6. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Susan Quinn: I’m not condoning love affairs, especially if you are married.

    Don’t knock it until you have tried it. I had a love affair while I was married. It lasted 40 years, nine months and three days. The only thing I regretted was it didn’t last longer. 

    And starting it was definitely jumping off a cliff and building wings on the way down.  I wish I had the nerve to try it again.

    • #6
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Raxxalan (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: I’m not condoning love affairs, especially if you are married.

    Unless of course it is with your spouse in which case I recommend it highly.

    Absolutely!!  ;-)

    • #7
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    And starting it was definitely jumping off a cliff and building wings on the way down.  I wish I had the nerve to try it again.

    How very sweet to share that, @seawriter. If something happened to Jerry, I can’t imagine marrying again. Although we’ve had a wonderful 46 years, I can’t imagine trying to train a new guy!! But you never know. Bless you.

    • #8
  9. Raxxalan Member
    Raxxalan
    @Raxxalan

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: I’m not condoning love affairs, especially if you are married.

    Don’t knock it until you have tried it. I had a love affair while I was married. It lasted 40 years, nine months and three days. The only thing I regretted was it didn’t last longer.

    And starting it was definitely jumping off a cliff and building wings on the way down. I wish I had the nerve to try it again.

    Mine only lasted 18 years and 2 months far too brief.   I too am searching for the nerve to try again, not sure if I’ll get there.    

    • #9
  10. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Raxxalan (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: I’m not condoning love affairs, especially if you are married.

    Don’t knock it until you have tried it. I had a love affair while I was married. It lasted 40 years, nine months and three days. The only thing I regretted was it didn’t last longer.

    And starting it was definitely jumping off a cliff and building wings on the way down. I wish I had the nerve to try it again.

    Mine only lasted 18 years and 2 months far too brief. I too am searching for the nerve to try again, not sure if I’ll get there.

    I think the key must be to stay open, rather than “trying,” Raxxalan. But since I’m not in that position, what do I know?

    • #10
  11. Raxxalan Member
    Raxxalan
    @Raxxalan

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Raxxalan (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: I’m not condoning love affairs, especially if you are married.

    Don’t knock it until you have tried it. I had a love affair while I was married. It lasted 40 years, nine months and three days. The only thing I regretted was it didn’t last longer.

    And starting it was definitely jumping off a cliff and building wings on the way down. I wish I had the nerve to try it again.

    Mine only lasted 18 years and 2 months far too brief. I too am searching for the nerve to try again, not sure if I’ll get there.

    I think the key must be to stay open, rather than “trying,” Raxxalan. But since I’m not in that position, what do I know?

    True but I am not even sure if I am willing to be open to something.  Additionally in this strange new world in which we now live you would have to be trying to meet anyone new.  That is an unintended consequence of the lockdowns, social distancing, masking, etc.  Social gatherings are much more circumscribed at present.

    • #11
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Raxxalan (View Comment):
    True but I am not even sure if I am willing to be open to something.  Additionally in this strange new world in which we now live you would have to be trying to meet anyone new.  That is an unintended consequence of the lockdowns, social distancing, masking, etc.  Social gatherings are much more circumscribed at present.

    Maybe just being open to those you are close to might be helpful. Those contacts keep us from total isolation and feed our souls. I really do get your point.

    • #12
  13. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Percival (View Comment):

    You knew this was coming:

    Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammo. 

    • #13
  14. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    I read Bradbury’s “love affair” in the old sense, which does not imply infidelity. Just a whirlwind.  

    • #14
  15. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Susan Quinn: You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.” — Ray Bradbury

    Sadly the time required to fashion wings involves tall cliffs. It is a chilling metaphor that appeals only to the adventurous even as it is a necessary step for everyone.

    A better, and more engaging description (h/t Scott Adams), is that everyone needs to become more immune to embarrassment. They need to understand that failure is a more effective teacher than mere affirmation of right answers and that embarrassment is simply reacting to the chemical processes in someone else’s brain that constitutes judging you. You can’t control that chemical process, so become less worried about it and take the needed steps to pursue your life, failure included.

    • #15
  16. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.” — Ray Bradbury

    Sadly the time required to fashion wings involves tall cliffs. It is a chilling metaphor that appeals only to the adventurous even as it is a necessary step for everyone.

    A better, and more engaging description (h/t Scott Adams), is that everyone needs to become more immune to embarrassment. They need to understand that failure is a more effective teacher than mere affirmation of right answers and that embarrassment is simply reacting to the chemical processes in someone else’s brain that constitutes judging you. You can’t control that chemical process, so become less worried about it and take the needed steps to pursue your life, failure included.

    That is very wise advice. I learned several years ago that embarrassment can be crippling. It will crop up when we don’t expect it, and push us into unproductive behavior. I’d be especially embarrassed when I made a mistake or misunderstood someone. In spite of my embarrassment, a simple correction or genuine apology was most effective. I make so many goofs now that I’m embarrassed much less and it’s a great relief to just say, “Oops! I goofed!”

    • #16
  17. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    And starting it was definitely jumping off a cliff and building wings on the way down. I wish I had the nerve to try it again.

    How very sweet to share that, @ seawriter. If something happened to Jerry, I can’t imagine marrying again. Although we’ve had a wonderful 46 years, I can’t imagine trying to train a new guy!! But you never know. Bless you.

    Practically every married woman I know says the same thing.  Quite a few (including my wife) say that if their husband died they would just get more cats.  A woman who has never been married might think a husband is a good idea, but it seems like most who have one say one is more than enough. 

    Of course, there are married men who also say “Never again,” but I think it is usually a tough-guy act.  I think that in general, men need women more than women need men. 

    • #17
  18. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):
    Of course, there are married men who also say “Never again,” but I think it is usually a tough-guy act.  I think that in general, men need women more than women need men. 

    Men do poorly if they lose their wives. Women seem to be more resilient. 

    • #18
  19. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):
    Of course, there are married men who also say “Never again,” but I think it is usually a tough-guy act. I think that in general, men need women more than women need men.

    Men do poorly if they lose their wives. Women seem to be more resilient.

    A couple years ago I read that the suicide rate for recently divorced men was substantially higher than for recently divorced women, more than the usual gap between male and female suicide rates.

    • #19