When I was a young girl, my mom took me to Yosemite for a sort of mother/daughter, nature-appreciation vacation. We stayed in a cabin and did all the sorts of things like hike, find waterfalls, and learn about animals. I unfortunately don’t remember much of that trip because it was overshadowed by a nightmare I had.
One evening, I came down with a high fever that led to a series of night terrors. I remember waking up sweating while my mom tried to soothe my feverish anxiety. I had a nightmare, I told her, and it was a terrible one! There was a huge, polka-dotted monster whose face changed between pink and green. He had round, bulging eyes and he wanted to kill me!
But that wasn’t the scariest part for Little Julia.
No, the scariest part was what happened to my body—because in that dream, my little hands inflated to exponential proportions. They grew bigger and bigger and bigger, dwarfing my small frame and expanding to almost three times my height. Then somehow they morphed into giant, concrete hands even though the rest of my body remained alive and writhing in pain. I was paralyzed by these hands; they were just too big for me.
Not until 20 years later did my giant hands resurface. This time, they appeared during a meditation session. My eyes were closed among a room full of cross-legged yogis (they looked so damn peaceful and enlightened that I wanted to scream). And there I was, horror-stricken, experiencing a profound internal catastrophe. I remember this! I gasped. I know what’s going to happen next!
Sure enough, I felt my hands expand and transform into heavy concrete. I tried to accept these sensations, hoping this was a mysterious gateway toward enlightenment. Here you go, the Universe offered. Buddha meditated without moving for seven days but you just have to endure this weird hand thing for a few more sessions.
But enlightenment never came.
Three years later, I was lying in savasana when the feeling overtook me. Here we go again and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.
Only this time was different.
This time, my hands didn’t morph into concrete; this time, they remained warm, human flesh. I watched as they stretched and expanded, and I could feel my palms getting heavier by the minute.
Suddenly, my body started to expand, too. It didn’t feel painful but actually pleasant—like my body was finally achieving symmetry and proportion. I watched as I inflated to three times my size.
This is new, I said to myself. What’s happening to me?
It was then that I understood what was really going on: I was finally growing into my hands.
Today, I signed a one-month lease for an apartment in Brooklyn. I don’t have a New York job and I don’t know how I’ll pay for rent after those four weeks expire. I have substantial student debt and a bad habit of wanting to control the future.
But still I believe that whatever those giant hands are, they’re here to stay, and they’re trying to tell me something. So I’m putting more faith into those mysterious powers than I ever have before.
The truth? The truth is that I’m terrified. I’m scared that I’m going to shrivel up when I encounter the millions of talented, driven people in New York and ask myself why I thought this was a good idea. Who was I to think that I could make a difference, that I have what it takes to make it in the big city?
I’m terrified that my self-identity will be mutilated, forcing me to confront the possibility that I’m ordinary or—worse!—a cliché. I’m scared that I might land a job and then produce uninspired dross, causing my company to question why they hired me.
I’m afraid that after one month, my fear will get the best of me and I’ll run back to mommy’s arms, crying “There’s this huge, polka-dotted monster that wants to kill me!”
A grasshopper greeted me at my front door today. He just sat there patiently waiting for me, and when I squatted down to remove my shoes, he continued to stare. I knew this was a message from the Universe, and a powerful one at that.
The grasshopper totem is one of courage, which signals for us to take a leap of faith. “Just go ahead and do it,” says the grasshopper, “even if you don’t know the outcome!”
Easier said than done, buddy. Have you met my ego? Have you looked at my finances?
And yet maybe this is how it goes sometimes.
Maybe sometimes you take a leap of faith followed by thousands of cautious steps. Maybe you fling yourself into something big, praying that you’ll eventually expand into it.
Maybe one day you decide that it’s time to take that risk, time to nourish your faith, time to grow into your unusually large hands.