Stepping Into the Unknown


“When you come to the end of all the light you know, and it’s time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: either you will be given something solid to stand on or you will be taught to fly.” ~ Barbara J. Winter

During my recent, brief blogging hiatus, I spent time reflecting on why I and others are often hesitant (if not outright frightened) when it comes to choosing action that requires us to step into the unknown. I know why I sometimes proceed cautiously and at other times, jump in headfirst. Each of us deals with our own blocks and how we break through them or allow them to hinder our growth.

I wondered how much time people actually dedicate to thinking about and addressing the unique rationale for why they cannot or will not step into the unknown. Or how for some, it’s simply a matter of ‘why not?’


For those of you unfamiliar with BBC One, the U.K. based broadcaster produces some exquisite videos. I particularly enjoy their “Life Story” pieces. Unfortunately, BBC One prohibits some of their videos from being posted to YouTube in the U.S. Instead, I invite you to click this link and (in just two minutes) watch a newborn Barnacle Gosling experience its maidenΒ flight, fearlessly!

My take, after having watched this clip, is if that little one can leap out of its nest and into a vast unknown, I can too! I may have a bumpy ride and end up a little dazed, but I’ll still land on something solid from which to grow forward.

2699398136_0041c8b9fe_mIf you won’t take action because you’re unsure of its outcome or you’re afraid of what might/could happen, consider these three perspectives:

  1. Next time you make a decision, make sure you are doing it because it is indeed a better choice for you, and not simply because it’s the nearest patch of safe ground. If your choice leads you through a period where you just don’t know what will happen, see if you can politely let uncertainty sit down with you. Despite its bad reputation, you never know what it might bring to the table.
  2. Inhale, exhale, and smile. In the end, not knowing can be scary, but liberating and profound. Think of yourself in the midst of a turbulent sea and you are afloat without knowing where anything will go. But this is always true, even of people who don’t admit it to themselves. Enjoy the ride. Look at the amazing place you’re in and acknowledge it. This path of not knowing, is the path of life itself.
  3. If you’re afraid of getting in trouble, remember you’re already in bigger trouble by not following your heart. If you listen to the voice of your fears, you’ll live an empty life. But if you listen to the voice of your heart, you’re likely to live a remarkable life. Cliche but… there is nothing to lose and everything to gain.

82 thoughts on “Stepping Into the Unknown

  1. Truth, truth, truth Eric! “If you’re afraid of getting in trouble, remember you’re already in bigger trouble by not following your heart. ” I wonder how many of us live(d) a safe life thinking that “safe” was good and missed out on “great” because we didn’t do what we were meant to be doing?

  2. Excellent post Eric you sing my life’s mantra. All one can really do is live in the present for there really is no other time. As Zorba the Greek said, “To live life is to undue your belt and look for trouble!”

    • Then I am interested in learning more about your life, Marc. Thanks for creating time to stop by and share a bit of you personal perspective, Here’s to living and being in the present. Cheers.

  3. Thankyou Eric for this post which is inspiring and gives great advice.

    I have studied all through my 20’s 30’s and 40’s depending on what I have felt called to do.

    Recently, I literally dreamed one night that I was teaching meditation classes and woke up the next day questioning this dream, and decided to plant a seed by sending out a text to a group of friends to see their feedback

    I was completely overwhelmed by the response I received witinin minutes after sending it. I had two days completely booked out with people wanting to come for meditation and a week later I heard back from an email I had sent out earlier, to an established holistic business who wants to meet with to discuss taking meditation classes.

    My experience with stepping out into the unknown has been difficult and very scary at times. My self-esteem and ego have been questioned on many levels and yet, when I have persevered, let go and trusted in life, I have found that my dreams have actually become my reality!!

    • The personal experience you describe is, I believe, one that is shared by many, Karen. Those who have chosen to step into the unknown have that first-hand knowledge and the comfort that comes with the experience. Sticking one’s toe into the water to test the temperature or depth rarely yields desired outcomes. Appreciate you thoughtful comment.

  4. “I wondered how much time people actually dedicate to thinking about and addressing the unique rationale for why they cannot or will not step into the unknown…” I think this is a very good question with huge implications that you haven’t touched on here. It’s one of the things I most worry about seeing the upcoming generations…that they are NOT thinking and they are NOT pondering the Why and Why Not of things. They just seem to me to blindly follow wherever they are led. I am so glad to be a thinking, wondering, person ripe for exploration and it really does make me wonder when I look ahead at where this next generation will end up in things… may not be a matter of why or why not because there is no thinking going on other than who to follow or where to go, but I see less and less of the question Why. I try and make that a goal with my kids… wise and think about the whys! Another inspiring post from you…’re probably the King of the Whys!

    • Indeed huge implications. And obviously, time (and word count) disallowed me from further elaborating. But you have — in some thoughtful observations. Specific to your comments, I often remind myself that each successive generation has, somehow, managed to find its own way. Whatever, if any consolation, that might yield. We do not know if our perspectives and concerns for how the next generation is evolving and unfolding are worrisome or simply evidence of more change. This is, for me, a good topic/conversation to explore with one’s adult beverage(s) of choice.

      As for probably being the “King of the Whys!” I am flattered. Thank you. πŸ™‚

  5. Stepping into the unknown is difficult, and there are times we must do this. Other times we choose to do this. Thought it frightens me I’ve found most often it has brought new and wonderful things into my life.

    • Most often for me as well. I have lost track/count of how many times I have been blessed only to have traced it back to my willingness to step into the unknown. Glad it has unfolded similarly for you!

  6. Thank you for this wonderful reminder, Eric. I tend to be someone that enjoys challenges and new things – in fact that tends to be where I am at my best – but at the same time I’m a home-body, a creature of habit that enjoys the safety of routine. I’ve used the concept of getting out of our comfort zone (i.e., getting comfortable with being uncomfortable) in business but I often fail to re-calibrate when it comes to my own personal choices. It seems hard to step off a ledge when there are so many dependencies: family, colleagues, rent, and the Netflix bill. But under all that is happiness as our fuel – a fulfilling life is one that includes taking risks, achieving through our failures and having fun with the opportunities we create. Wide-eyed this am, thank you Eric for the boost.

    • A most important matter first: It’s November; are you and your wife newly proud parents yet?

      “But under all that…” sums it nicely, Dominic. I believe many of us are creatures of habit. Comfort is comfort yet it’s not what shifts us closer to the ledge. Or encourages us to leap. Some of us simply aren’t cut from the cloth that engages and embraces uncertainty. But for we who are, fasten the seat belts. Glad to learn that the post arrived concurrent with your being wide-eyed. πŸ™‚

      • Revel in and at being toast! πŸ™‚ Aside from you and your wife, I cannot imagine anyone being more thrilled than your mother. She has to be dancing a gig or whatever her favorite step is. How comforting it must be knowing that she has the honor of watching over and protecting her namesake. Wishing all of you, your son included, abundant joy, good health and blessings. Happy for you, man.

  7. I’m more willing to step into the unknown when I am making my own decisions and taking my own actions. I feel confident I can get myself out of a jam if I have to. When I need to depend on someon else or let another take the reins, I feel vulnerable.

  8. I’m constantly looking for new and interesting bits of nature so my blog doesn’t go stale and to find them I have to go to places I’ve never been, It is there in those unknown places that I have found some of the most beautiful and interesting things that I’ve ever seen. I’m so glad that the gosling survived that fall!

    • To your observation, it is often in those unknown places that we are introduced to beautiful and interesting things — and people! In part, this is why I believe we who have experienced this keep doing it. πŸ™‚ And many viewers are glad to learn that the gosling was just a bit dazed. What a trooper!

  9. So much like this! His little heart must have been thumping before he took off! I got worried there for a bit … love the end ….

    • An interesting observation… “His little heart must have been thumping before he took off.” I suspect many of us were more focused (captivated) by its flight and then cascading down the rock face. To the post’s focus, it seems that many people’s hearts are thumping before they step into that unknown. Thanks for highlighting this perspective!

  10. Lots of wisdom here, Eric. I’ve tried to muster the courage to leap when my heart has told me so…and always landed on a fairly firm ground. That’s how we discover new things…but it’s not easy to trust one’s gut.

    • Thanks for sharing your personal experience, Helen. As shared in another comment reply, it is we who have leaped and landed on terra firma that know how exhilarating it can be and the outcome is. Without doubt, it takes considerable self-belief and faith to trust our own (best) intuition.

  11. Loved the clip and one thing that preoccupied my thoughts was that the chick actually needed to “jump” because if it didn’t it wouldn’t be what it is! Scary but so essential. So I guess for those who do not plunge into the unknown perhaps the the “assessment” is: do I need this or not? Is it worth the fear if I plunge?

    • I like your view on this, Ina. Thank you for sharing it. The questions you pose are good to ask ourselves in advance of “jumping.” That, I believe, is where our self-belief “rubber meets the road.”

    • I suspect you are in the majority, Totsy. Yet at least many of us take action and make choices whereas others simply don’t and wonder… I believe that we’ve all had outcomes that we’re as we had wished or intended them to be. But we probably have plenty of them with which we are pleased. πŸ™‚

  12. Stepping into the unknown is also scary for me… But I always end up feeling better when I have the guts to take the scary step. There is a saying that goes: “do something everyday that scares you”.. I try to so this sometimes .

  13. Eric for every good idea or action to move forward comes the inner critic who tells me my work is never good enough. I stopped listening and share it anyway, how else will I learn? Thanks love your message. I will keep moving forward into the unknown.

    • Good to learn that you have stopped listening to your inner critic, Kath. It is often our ego minds in disguise anyway. “How else will (we) learn.” And that pretty much hit the mail on the head. Know that you have my (and likely, others) encouragement as you keep moving forward into the unknown! Thanks for your appreciated sharing.

  14. I like that …your words about sitting down with uncertainty even though it has a bad reputation!! Reminds me of those times with people and activities that I don’t really want to do yet I know in my heart that it will be good for my soul.
    I have been away from WordPress for a while so I am looking forward to catching up with some of your other posts and being reminded of feeling the fear and uncertainty and to bounce forward with courage into the day and each moment.

  15. Very wise words Eric.. And I am so enjoying the series Life Story.. And boy oh boy! did I catch my breath as those young gosling leapt from such a height when I watched last week on the BBC πŸ™‚ .. I was sure they would not survive.. Yet they bounced and tumbled and thankfully most survived…
    Fear of the unknown always restricts our leaps of faith… Trusting in our instincts like that Gosling is something many of us have lost over our generations of conditioned lives … But once we Trust and take those first steps.. Its amazing how life then can grow and expand… We never know until we try do we?..
    Thank you Eric.. Wonderful example and share…

  16. As I strive to say the same thing but in different words, I am unable to… Yes, you did a remarkable job in describing the way feel when faced with alternatives. I deal with this all too often in both my lines of work, but especially in the one I blog about. My second business is educating people on the dangers of chemicals in our everyday products, but after the education portion is over, we allow them the freedom to make the choice to “change” to better products, like the ones our company provides (which are EcoCert, toxic-free, organic and all natural), or continue to use the all to familiar products laced with BPA, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Formaldehyde, and the list goes on and on and on and on…. Undoubtfully people always seem conflicted over a choice that will better their health, will ward off potentially deadly diseases such as obesity, cancer, infertility, depression, among a host of others. I am still baffled by what seems to me to be such a simple choice. I can use the products I am using knowing they are bad for me and hope for the best. or I can make some changes in my purchasing habits to make sure that I am around sane of mind, body and soul to see my family and grandchildren grow up. I guess I must be simplistic in thinking! Again thanks for the post!

    • Why hold your nose? Snorting a little chlorinated, salt or fresh water rarely hurt anyone. πŸ™‚ Besides, that might just make the experience even more memorable. πŸ™‚ Kidding aside, Irene, you are spot on. It’s all about jumping.

  17. Just because I enjoyed the movie Garden State, it wasn’t the sole reason why I named my blog the way it is. An abyss is a seemingly never-ending pit that we may or may not care to venture into. The blog name is there as a constant reminder for inspiration. There is relevance with writing, being honest and practical and informational with the words places on the page/screen regardless of the topic.

    Often times it’s difficult finding things to write about in a medium-sized city. There is a lot of negativity from others, and sometimes I personally feed off if it. Stepping into the unknown kind of parallels stepping or trying the unconventional.And forever this will be a work in progress, or else I (we all) should stop writing if there is no challenge felt.

    Great post!

    • Appreciate your reply, Chris, along with a bit of backstory and your personal sentiments. I agree with and here’s to “forever this will be a work in progress.” As (collectively) it ought to be. Thanks, too, for you thoughtful acknowledgment of this post.

  18. I have been guilty in the past, even in relationships, to take too many chances, Eric. The part about stopping to reflect, breathing and also, being spiritual, (you mention faith in one of your passages…) are part of my more ‘mature’ way of handling life. I really found this post to ‘resonate’ with my newer and more improved lifestyle. Thanks for this, Eric! Confirmations and reminders help us so much in this life!

    • As I’ve shared in other post replies, we’re human, we mature, we adapt, and we continue to grow. Thanks for sharing that you are enjoying your newer and more improved lifestyle, as well as for your kind comment, Robin. Onward!

  19. What a great message! I’ll tell you, though, I was pained when the Barnacle Gosling went SPLAT here and there down the cliff. On the way down I said to myself, ‘Eric wouldn’t do that to readers… and if he did, I would be real mad.’ Thank you for not showing a baby Barnacle Gosling dying before my eyes. πŸ˜€ Phew!

    • Yikes, how’d I miss your comment, Jackie? Please pardon my delayed reply. Of course Eric would not have posted a video with any animal dying. But he sure as heck had a lump in his throat when he first watched that gosling tumble. I also figured that Sir Richard would not have narrated a clip if it had a dire outcome. πŸ™‚ Happy Thanksgiving!

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