On the Leap of Faith

"What was I waiting for?"

By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here

Some topics are loaded and come with a lot of preconceptions, like the concept of faith. Yet there is a beautiful side to faith that is essential to life and happiness — that is the leap of faith. In big or small ways, to act without regret; to believe you are capable; that it will work out in the end. It is not a faith in a higher being or of miracles, it is a faith in oneself. And that is the beauty.

A bit of advice given to a young Native American at the time of his initiation:

As you go the way of life,
You will see a great chasm. Jump.
It is not as wide as you think.
— Joseph Campbell

In Pop Art

Through nine panels and nine thought bubbles, Grant Snider of Incidental Comics conceptualizes the chasm of faith, and what it takes to overcome it. Conditions will never be perfect, sometimes you just have to go for it.

Comic illustration by Grant Snider, Incidental Comics. Published with permission; all rights reserved.

Comic illustration by Grant Snider, Incidental Comics. Published with permission; all rights reserved.

The leap of faith is a necessary part of adulthood for many indigenous people. It is an ancient practice, perhaps hardwired into our DNA. Then it is fitting that a combination of words and images triggers understanding.

In Anthropological Research

Nothing extra is needed to overcome the chasm of faith, all that you need exists in your heart — the belief that you will make it to the other side, and the quiet acceptance of all that comes with it. Some of this has become familiar to us by the work of American mythologist Joseph Campbell (March 26, 1904 - October 30, 1987). In 1949, The Hero with a Thousand Faces was first published, inspiring many, including George Lucas. (Lucas credits much of the inspiration for Star Wars to Campbell.)

In this passage, Campbell adds cultural and historical weight to the leap of faith:

With the personifications of his destiny to guide and aid him, the hero goes forward in his adventure until he comes to the ‘threshold guardian’ at the entrance to the zone of magnified power. Such custodians bound the world in four directions — also up and down — standing for the limits of the hero’s present sphere, or life horizon. Beyond them is darkness, the unknown and danger; just as beyond the parental watch is danger to the infant and beyond the protection of his society danger to the members of the tribe. The usual person is more than content, he is even proud, to remain within the indicated bounds, and popular belief gives him every reason to fear so much as the first step into the unexplored.

Life is mundane. But for the courageous and competent, life is an adventure. Campbell writes:

The adventure is always and everywhere a passage beyond the veil of the known into the unknown; the powers that watch at the boundary are dangerous; to deal with them is risky; yet for anyone with competence and courage the danger fades.

It's scary beforehand and we delay and delay, but if and when we act, we often wonder why we waited. Perhaps it is this belief that the most meaningful parts of life will come to us, that we are owed it. But the finest aspects of life will not come to us, and when I say finest, I don't mean the luxuries of being born wealthy, I mean the most meaningful. And that meaning is elusive. Life will not come for us, we must go after it.

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