Life as an Extreme Sport

A Matter of Trust, A Leap of Faith

Another surprisingly good day. I did something that can be a bit hard for me (as I am, regardless of the fact that no one believes me, quite shy and introverted), and sought out several people I’ve specifically had problems with in the past year to clear the air, apologize for not talking to them immediately when something bothered me, and in one case, spent quite a while quietly talking and thinking about what factored into the perfect storm that threw us off the rails.

For all I write, and talk, I actually find it very difficult to say, clearly and calmly, “I feel [whatever]” about a subject. I admit it’s my big area of broken; I don’t have the best social skills, and I play my feelings very close to my chest. I have a hard time opening up to people; I will happily chatter for days about any number of things, but if we start in on how I feel, or why, or what, I’ll clam up.

It’s a matter of trust. And trust is a tricky thing, because you have to trust in order to move through life. Trust is what allows us to narrow our options for the future; if we have no trust, it’s very difficult to make choices; our options become limitless and we have no way to make judgment on those options. Trust is a filter on the endless potentialities of the future, and it allows us to not become stuck in the present, turned to past, but continue moving through present to future ((I wrote about this several years ago, for a project that turned into an art book titled Trust Bound:

to free ourselves from being stuck, we have to take a risk. we have to look at the future potentialities and guess, choose blindly, choose based on what other people offer you. trust is a multiperson experience, and if someone extends you their trust, they do so on the basis of their experience, and what they think of you. what they think you will do.

the options become filtered through the actions of another. it is up to us, whether or not we accept that external filter. it is up to us to make the decision that a single anomalic event does not mean we always have bad judgement.

to become unstuck, you must trust.

)). But to give trust is a risk. Because, to paraphrase Alfonso Lingis, the more you know about someone, the more clearly you sees that every act of loyalty, of trust, opens an opportunity for disloyalty and broken trust.

It’s easy to get hurt. It’s easy to lose faith. But it is hard to live life without trusting those around you; you become truly alone.

Still, you can be an academic, you can know a subject intellectually inside and out – that doesn’t mean you’re going to be a genius at applying it to your own life, and this is definitely an area I need to work on. Bad experiences, insecurity, a shitty year – a great combination to fold me into my shell and shut down any thoughts about saying “so, hey, I have this problem…” (Not to mention, as was pointed out to me, when someone is feeling excluded and discriminated against, expecting them to step forward and take action on it does become a bit close to blaming the victim/expecting them to take steps to fix a problem.)

The thing is though, when you’re stuck in the now and unable to trust, it’s because something has made you doubt your abilities to use trust as a filter. The only real way to “get over it” is to just take a deep breath and jump – take a leap of faith, hand someone your trust, open yourself up to them, and then give them to chance to reciprocate.

To say that is hard is an understatement. Then again, I walked into it with nothing to lose; I had hit the bottom, and realized this wasn’t how I wanted to live life. I wasn’t, haven’t, been living life. I’ve been mimicking, and going through the motions, but that’s not going to get me what I want – to, as Thoreau said, live deep and suck the marrow of life. Certainly wasn’t going to help me make actual connections and friends with the people in my department.

I think that it’s necessary to trust to live life, truly live a full and vibrant life, to fully engage with the world and those in it. At the same time, trusting when time and again we will find our trust broken is one of the hardest things to do; to paraphrase another wise modern philosopher, the hardest thing we will do in this life is live it.

Sometimes you have to take that leap of faith. You have to give yourself permission to have been wrong, and you have to override your instinctual reactions to protect yourself, even in that wrongness, and reach out to someone else and tell them the same. To place your trust into the world, into the hands of someone else, and give them the option to reciprocate.