I recently read a true story about the stuntman Luke Aikins. Believe it or not, he landed in a book of world records for…wait for it, jumping out of a plane at 25,000 feet withouta parachute. Unfortunately, he died a few minutes later.
Just kidding. He actually lived to tell the story. How? Using GPS, he was able to navigate his fall and land on a massive 100-by-100 foot net that was suspended between 4 cranes. What’s fascinating about the story is that Luke almost jumped with a parachute as backup. But at the last moment he took it off, fulfilling the dream he had been focused on for years.
And that’s why I’m in awe of Luke. If he had taken the parachute with him, it wouldn’t have been as compelling a story. Thousands of people jump out of planes all the time with parachutes. But the fact that he had none? Well, that’s a story worth telling.
I don’t know if I’ll ever jump out of a plane. And if I do, I’ll probably ask for 2 parachutes, not 1. And a net. A much bigger net.
Maybe then I’ll jump. But if, and only if, everything is exactly how I want it to be.
I don’t know about you, but I like calling the shots. I like pulling strings. I like being in control.
And sometimes, that’s ok. It’s good to have a plan. It’s good to be an organizer. It’s good to have your ducks in a row. (Provided they can fly well if they’re thrown out of planes).
But sometimes, the desire to control can actually hinder the wonder of life.
The ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus said, “we do not step into the same river twice.” In other words, nothing ever stays the same. Life is fueled by change.
But here’s the problem, instead of moving to the flow of change, full of hope, full of faith, participating in the beauty of life’s wildness; I kill it with my need to control. I throw in rocks. I hinder its movement.
And maybe, if I try hard enough, I can even dam it up. The river stops its forward motion. It’s walled in. It’s controlled. It’s exactly what I want it to be.
True…but it’s also dead. It’s stagnant. It has no life, energy, or momentum.
The unending need to control will actually kill the very thing that’s supposed to give life. In fact, anything - if it’s alive - needs room to breathe. Organic, authentic things need space to grow and adapt. Relationships, marriage, parenting, experiences, art, beauty, even God...If they, and we, are to flourish in our lives, we have to open our hands, let go of our fear, and embrace the dangerous joy of becoming.
That is how life was meant to be lived.
It’s stepping into the river and going with the flow.
It’s loving people with no strings attached.
It’s forgiving without holding it over their head.
It’s serving without expecting in return.
It’s risking without looking back.
It’s letting go of our need to control.
It’s opening the door to leave the parachute behind.
Those are stories worth telling.
And the best stories are always those without parachutes.