￼Pt. Reyes National Seashore is one of my favorite places to go. There are two places I love to visit.
Drakes Beach. It’s a perfect family friendly beach, though sometimes windy. Several weekends a year you can find me here with my kids collecting rocks, playing in the waves or just reading in the sun. Though many families come here for parties and picnics, it has never been too crowded. It boasts a small little cafe’ and small visitors center.
The Bear Valley Trail. This trail is just over a 4 mile hike from the visitors center to the coast. The trail meanders through dense coastal forest, alongside a trickling stream, and has a perfect resting point halfway through with a gorgeous meadow. What makes the whole trip worth it is the end. The trail does not end on the beach. It leads out to a cliff over the beach. The end is a breathtaking view of ocean and sky, and sandy beach below.
￼Once, nearly 20 years ago, my friend and I found a rather treacherous and unmarked trail that led down the side of the cliff, next to the creek that ran out to the beach. So we did what young nineteen- year-olds do, and we decided it would be fun to climb down it. There were a few moments when we thought we might fall right into the creek. I did almost break my ankle. However, we made it down to the beach. We climbed over some of the larger rocks. Checked out the undisturbed tide pools and a couple small caves. I don’t even remember climbing back up. We just did it. I think we figured we made it down, going up should be easy.
Over the years, the trail has eroded completely away. A few years ago, I went out to that cliff. There is was no clear path down the side of it anymore. It had completely eroded away. However, on the right side of the cliff, there was a small section that came out over the beach. I lay down on my stomach and looked straight down on the beach.
No people to be seen in either direction, but very clear footprints.
So laying there, I wondered, what if I had wings? Could someone fly? Land on the sand and simply walk in a new direction? I wondered if hang gliding down was possible. I wished that I could do it. Could someone just jump? It was fairly high above the beach, so from a practical standpoint, probably not, but what if?
Fear is like this cliff. On our journey we may come to a place like this. We may be faced with the choice of jumping, flying, having faith, and facing fear or turning around and going back. The only person to make that choice is you. Impossible things happen while we are traveling. Is there another way down that is waiting to be discovered?
The heart of the fear is this: we face it or we turn around.
But maybe you do not make this decision right away. Maybe you enjoy the view for a while. Maybe you watch the gulls playing in the wind, have lunch next to the ocean, or laying on your stomach looking down. If you walk away, if you decide to turn back and wait, that is okay. Just knowing what your fear is, and knowing where you need to take your leap of faith, gives you time to prepare for taking that leap.
So, how do you face that fear? How do you decide which choice is best for you?
Listen. Feel it. It is really important that you learn what fear feels like for you so that you can tell the difference between real practical reasons and fear centered reasons. Fear centered reasoning holds you back and often leaves you feeling as like you have just let down your best friend. And the truth is, you have. You!
What’s the determining factor? What is then the moment that tips the scales and sends you leaping from the cliff?
The moment when it is more difficult and more painful to stay still. The moment that the path backwards looks harder than flying.
That’s when you stand on the edge and fly.