I believe in leaping.
I’ve heard the proverb. I have read the fable, and in my opinion it’s not Aesop’s best work. I do not want to look. It’s not in my nature to look. I leap.
Leapers invite people to parties in unfinished houses. Leapers get on planes without hotel reservations, they bake highly unprofessional wedding cakes, they start businesses first and do the math later. Leapers have a tendency to be a bit cavalier about birth control, and they move impulsively to the kinds of places where you can see bears from your windows. When the dim sum cart rolls by, leapers say yes to it all.
I am a leaper, so when I say “leapers” in that grand, sort of abstract way, I really mean me. I am the one turning sawhorses and boards into buffet tables, muddling through cake batter and business plans while living among bears and small children. I am a leaper married to a leaper, and although our families thought our marriage itself was a leap, it turns out that a mutual disinclination to examine possible consequences overcomes all sorts of cultural differences. We have three children, none of whom are familiar with the kind of studied deliberation that, in most families, would come in between the phrases “Let’s adopt number four from China” and “Okay.”
Officials in two countries (disciples of Aesop all) were determined that we would at least nominally look this time. So we tried. We attended classes on topics like “multi-culturalism” and “attachment.” We discussed. “There’s room for one more in the Buick, but we’ll have to put the rear seat up in the Honda,” one of us would declare as though it mattered. Supposedly, we were thinking about it. Really, we were weighing the pros and cons of a decision we’d already made against a background of constant reminders that no process other than leaping would ever lead anyone to have kids at all. We wiped butts and snotty noses, dealt with barfing and bad dreams and the results of poorly thought-out ski jumps, and agreed that it would be great to have one more.
There are some things you just can’t do without leaping. I believe that if, when you look, it takes you away from what your heart was leaping towards, then maybe you’ve looked too hard. There are a lot of closet leapers out there, shouting out retroactive justifications as they sail through the air, but we leap knowing exactly what we’re doing–which is to say, we know that we don’t know at all. So with the baggage of all of our earlier leaps and the prospect of leaps yet to come, we will travel to China, sample the jellied chicken feet, stand on the Great Wall and pick up our newest family member. She won’t have our blood running through her veins, but she’ll be taking a giant leap, so we know she’ll fit in just fine.