Monday, December 1, 2014


Yesterday morning, as I drove over to join the Laguna Beach sangha for my usual Sunday morning sit, I found myself listening to an interview with Phillippe Petit, the wire-walker made famous for his (unauthorized) high-wire feat between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in 1974.  I was inspired to watch his TED talk this morning.

What I found most compelling--in both the radio interview and the TED talk--was Petit's description of the first step of his WTC act, from building to wire, as he moved from the regular, safe, known world into what he called "the clouds."  The immensity of that risk, as he described it, was made possible not only by the many years of practice that give him the needed confidence in his skill, but also by the replacement of doubt by an act of faith.  Stepping out over the void, he believed already with absolute certainly that he would step off the wire at the other end.

It's a compelling image at any time, that transition from building to wire, from safety into the unknown.  It's of particular interest to me at this moment because, after receiving the (at this time fully unexpected) gift of an idea for a sequel to "The Pilgrim's Staff," I have spent nearly two weeks in doubt as to whether I could do it.

I started off fine, with a first foot on the wire.  I wrote some fifty pages, happily, before the doubt set in.  Then I saw a problem.  I began to question, soon to doubt.  I scrapped everything I had done thus far, and went back to the beginning again.  Took a breath.  Spent a good while thinking.  Thinking forward, planning how this trick might be done, how I might pull it off.  And put a first foot on the wire again.

Which is where I stand this morning.  One foot on the wire.  Which is why Petit's TED talk and that interview seemed suddenly so important.  It's time to say thank you to the doubts and questions and ask them to leave.  Time enough for them later.  For now, it's time to shift the weight and put that second foot forward.  Time to step out into the clouds.

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