The other day, I ran across an interview with Susan Sarandon over there at ontheredcarpet.com that reminded me once again that good things are often born of chaos. Or, as we so often write: We are our failures, those blips in the road that can propel us forward.
But only if we let them.
Back to Sarandon, I’ll confess that she has been one of my favorite actors ever since Bull Durham, so I am predisposed to find anything she says to be both witty and wise. Currently, she is starring in “Jeff, Who Lives at Home” — playing a frustrated mom whose loser son lives in her basement while he searches for the meaning of life. She told OTRC that she “could actually relate to Jeff’s plight of not knowing what his path should be in life”. Which might come as a surprise, considering that she is, after all, an Oscar winning actress. But what she says is this:
“Even if you don’t believe in a higher power, there’s clearly something that happens out of the chaos. My whole life has been totally serendipitous and everything that’s been important to me has come out of the blue and oftentimes against the odds,” Sarandon told OnTheRedCarpet.com. “And my daughter says, ‘You know mom, it doesn’t look good on paper’ and I go, ‘You know what, I’m just going to jump, I’m going to do it.’ I don’t mean being reckless, but I think you have to give life the benefit of the doubt sometimes because it’s got far more imagination than you do.”
In other words, you never know what might be waiting for you just around the corner until you take that leap of faith. It’s a pretty hopeful message, yes? But what we’ve found is that it’s a tough one, too. Because it means you have to be willing to take a risk, to live life without much of a net, and, in so doing, accept the fact that there’s a chance that you’ll fall flat on your keister.
Of course, there’s also a chance that you won’t: Put yourself out there to ask for that promotion, negotiate a higher salary, work out some flextime, pitch a book proposal — and you just might get what you ask for. Still, it’s a message that’s hard to hear, especially for those of us running without a roadmap, tackling new territory, new opportunities, making new choices about what to do with our lives without the kinds of historic role models men have had for generations. It’s no wonder so many of us want to search for the magical how-to, the “ten easy steps” from here to have-it-all.
Or would rather hear that the staus quo is just rosy, and stick with it, thank you very much.
And that’s fine. But you have to wonder what you miss when you steer clear of the cliff. Because when you do screw up your courage and take that leap, good things often follow. Take us, for example: mother and daughter writing a book together. Think about that leap of faith. It’s something neither of us could have foreseen back, say, when Shannon was a teenager. Who knew it would work out? But work out, it did — in ways we never could have imagined. (Plus or minus a few spats here and there. Catch us offline if you want the real dope.)
But meanwhile, back to the question at hand: While we’re making our way through this relatively uncharted territory, figuring out our way in the world, do we sit tight? Search for some one-size-fits all answers? Or do we take that leap of faith and, as Sarandon says, give life the benefit of the doubt?