Tightrope walking as if there were no net

Photo by Leio McLaren, Unsplash

Photo by Leio McLaren, Unsplash

When I was in my 20s and working in a spirit-numbing job in Victoria, I and a group of coworkers met downtown one bright summer’s day to consult a psychic who was taking appointments from a large, unfurnished conference room up two narrow flights of stairs in the Huntingdon Manor Hotel in the Inner Harbour. As each of our names was called, we filed up to see him while the rest of the group sipped lemonade under umbrellas amid a flock of tourists on the hotel lawn.

Jordan, the psychic, was barely out of high school. Far too young to be dispensing advice. Yet everything he said to me when my turn came was profoundly wise, and has stayed with me for more than 30 years.

Like this:

You know how tightrope walkers practice with a net? That’s what you need to do: Learn to walk like there is no net, but trust that the net is always there.

Over time I learned that what he was talking about was Ayn Rand’s theory of a benevolent universe. Simply put, the universe supports our efforts in life.

Lots of people have expressed this idea and related it to sometimes surprising topics. William Hutchison Murray said it like this (though his words are often misattributed to Goethe):

The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no [one] could have dreamt would have come [their] way.

This theory can be tested. For example, try buying a farm in the northern bush and embarking on a freelance career to support yourself. Of course, I didn’t string a tightrope across a canyon right off the mark. As Henri Matisse said, “You must be able to walk firmly on the ground before you start walking on a tightrope.”

Tightrope walking as if there were no net takes practice. Did I fall? Hell yes, many times. But Jordan was right. Ayn Rand was right. The universe “caught” me every single one of those times.

Start small. Quit the job that’s numbing your spirit and eating your heart in increments. Trust that what you really want to do—what makes you come alive—is what you’re supposed to be doing.

Trust in the net.

9 Responses to “Tightrope walking as if there were no net”

  1. Avatar christine

    absolutely! i have taken many “leaps of faith” and it’s always worked out for the better. feel the fear and do it anyway! x0

    • commatologist commatologist

      Yes, and we usually have a picture of what will happen when we leap that turns out to be completely wrong. Sometimes I’ve leapt straight into total disaster – but it’s always the most transformative disaster – exactly what I needed but didn’t know it before I leapt. Love to you in your latest leap of faith.

  2. Avatar Diana Z

    I would love to hear more, Leslie! Your story ended too soon. As Daniele began her new career as a music producer at 57, her guiding motto was “Commit and figure it out”. She’s done a lot of “figuring it out”, but I’m sure she’d say she made the right choice. 🙂

  3. Avatar Margaret

    I’ve seen this play out in my life as well- and it all feels so effortless and surprising.

    • commatologist commatologist

      I think we tend to forget that this is how it’s supposed to be and actually is all the time if only we were aware of it. I saw a great quote from John O’Donohue yesterday:

      “If we could but realize the sureness around us, we would be much more courageous in our lives. The frames of anxiety that keep us caged would dissolve. We would live the life we love and in that way, day by day, free our future from the weight of regret.”


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