In 1960, French avant-garde artist Yves Klein created a photo montage of himself leaping from a wall over a quiet Paris street. The black and white photograph, called the Leap Into the Void, was Klein’s way of embracing the irrational and celebrating groundlessness in an increasingly industrial era bound by convention. The photograph captures both the eye and the imagination because it does not conform to expectations. It captures an act of defiance both against what any sensible person would do and against gravity itself.
In each our own journey toward self-discovery, we can sometimes find ourselves leaping into the void, the great terra incognita—the unknown land—of the soul. Our own leaps might involve making a big career change, starting a creative endeavor, attending to the care of a dying friend or family member, going on a religious pilgrimage, leaving a marriage or getting married, having children, or packing a bag and getting a one-way ticket to a place you’ve never been before.
A leap can also involve nothing more—and nothing less—than a dive into the depths of our own unconscious. Or kicking a bad habit or addiction. Or being vulnerable, like telling someone you love them. Or coming out. A leap is something that scares us and draws us at the same time, and no matter what we do or where we go, we often cross thresholds with fear and trembling, flee from certain psychic death, make unbearable choices, and find ourselves lost and without a map.
But we have an inner territory we can turn to if we pay attention to its many manifestations—intuition, hunches, dreams, and, most important, the soul’s own deep and undeniable calling—to guide us on this often harrowing but always rewarding journey. A leap into the void can involve danger but a timely leap can also lead us out of danger. “The Master of Zen says, ‘Jump into the foaming waves of the whirlpool below!,'” writes R. H. Blyth in his book, Zen in English Literature and Oriental Classics. “The monk jumps, and finds himself on his feet, walking along the road that leads to his own home.”
In this blog I am going to be writing about this search. I want to explore the inner landscape of life, not only in myself but also in others, including those from history who have gone before us and from the world of myth and religion. I will also offer tips on how you, too, can make your own leap, and reflect on the highs and lows that come as a result of taking such a risk.
I also want to hear about what the leap into the void means to you–if you made a leap into the void, how you coped when were in it (are how you are coping now if you are in the free fall), and how you found your way into the new life you’ve discovered. Please leave comments and let me know. Or email me at the contact information you can find by clicking on the link above.
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