Excerpt from Hopeful Healing

by  Mackenzie Phillips

I ’ve been leaping most of my life—leaping to trust, to a higher power (God, the universe, or whatever you want to call it), and to hope. I’m leaping to those three things pretty much all of the time. Most people take a leap offaith. I like both: ofand to. There is a difference between a leap ofsomething and a leap tosomething. When I say I’m leaping tosomething like hope, I mean I’m making a leap in the direction ofhope. When I say I’m taking a leap ofhope, it means I already know and believe that hope exists (it’s already inside me). Sometimes it’s the first version of leaping, sometimes it’s the second. I do both every day. Every day I’m leaping—that’s me, in midair. When I am leaping and when I think about what that truly means, it’s kind of breathtaking.

We all do it—I mean, shit, I wake up and think, I hope I have a good day. Leap! Sometimes it’s with my eyes squeezed shut and holding my breath, like when I jump into a cold pool. Sometimes it’s with my eyes wide open, laughing out loud, like when I jump on a trampoline.

Think of the movement of leaping. Our muscles tense, and our knees bend a little in preparation as the body shifts forward onto the toes. For a moment, all of our weight is held there in a coiled position, the moment before action. If we stay too long on our toes, we start to wobble—it’s a precarious place to be, on your toes, before you leap. I’ve always wondered how people stay in that position. Leap already! You’re coiled up for the spring, so do it!

Once you’ve put yourself in motion, you are more likely to continue to move forward. Think about the motion of objects: If an object isn’t in motion, it’s very difficult to motivate it to move—it wants to stay put. But if it’s already in motion, you can gently guide and motivate it along the path that it needs to go on. Likewise, once you get into motion, it’s easier to follow direction. It’s easier to change. If you’re at rest and you’re just static, not doing anything, it’s very difficult to motivate yourself into action. When you start taking action, however, going forward becomes easier. If you’re in motion, it’s going be a lot harder to stop you than if you’re sitting still.

Moving toward recovery is a do-or-don’t kind of situation. Recovery requires, demands, wants, needschoice and action. If you go for it, you will be able to continue to go forward unless stopped by something else. If you stay static, if you stay on the fence, I guarantee that you’ll fall, and it won’t be into recovery. And when we hit the ground, the consequences usually include something being broken— you know, like your spirit, your heart, your body, your mind.

When you’ve chosen to leap, all of the motion happens at once: the release of your energy andthe extension of your limbs andthe flight forward, upward. Everyone does it differently, some with wild abandon, arms flailing and legs pumping in the air, and giant hoots and hollers. Some do it headfirst, a quick streamlined dive like a life- guard off of a platform. Some pull their arms close to their bodies, cross their feet at the ankles, scream, and maybe they plug their nose too—they’re waiting to be enveloped from the feet up by the consequences of their actions.

I think all leaps are beautiful; it’s the moment of choice that matters most. Then when you jump, you rise up, and for the briefest of moments, you feel like you’re suspended there. It’s like a gasp of wonder mixed with fear. You’re in anticipation—you’ve surrendered to not knowing.

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