Once upon a time I jumped off a hundred foot cliff on a hang glider. It was in the early 70s when the sport was in its infancy; training and saftety gear were essentially non-existent. Some friends invited me to check out the carefree enthusiasts who were enjoying the new sport at a local jump spot along the Palos Verde peninsula. It was quite a sight and when one of the long-hairs asked me if I’d like to try hang gliding, I literally jumped at the chance.

I was going through a difficult time in my life, needing to make some changes, and afraid of the options I saw before me. I was, and still am very afraid of heights. Did I say very afraid? Somehow that was a total non-issue in the moment. I was at a critical juncture in my life where I needed to take a risk – either crash and burn, or soar. So without any safety equipment, and a scant teaspoon of instruction, I jumped off a hundred foot cliff for one of the most exhilerating experiences of my life. I have no memory of climbing back up the cliff with the glider, but I did, and jumped again! The person in front of me crashed into the cliffs, as did the person behind me, both with injuries. That event was a life changing experience for me. I returned home, made some necessary changes, and never looked back.

There’ve been other significant risks taken in my live – moving to Spain, then to England, and retiring as a therapist to open my own business as a banner maker/artist, but mostly life have presented run-of-the-mill risks and an occasional life-stretching risk. One of those happened recently.

Let’s just say my brother and I divided up the arts equitably. He got all the musical gifts which is good since he is an accomplished professional musician.  I got the artistic gifts; sadly, my musical abilities are embarrassing at best. That made my recent risky business all the more curious. I’ve been reviewing some of the relapse/recovery curriculum for the Lighthouse, the year-long substance abuse recovery program for women where I do weekly therapeutic art workshops. One chapter on brain functioning fascinated me in particular. It described how new information stored in the neocortex is not always immediately acted on because the older, longer rehearsed, more automatic responses and emotions of the limbic system respond first. There’s a lag between what we know and our ability to incorporate that as new ways of responding. More easily said – We do what we don’t want to do, and don’t do what we want to do. That’s called the limbic lag. And that just said RAP SONG to me!

A young friend told me recently that the my name and the words rap song would never have occurred in the same sentence for her. I kind of agreed with her. So it took me a couple of months to get up the courage to risk proposing this as the day’s activity at the weekly art workshop. I had an idea, but I was totally out of my league, and without any musical skill to make this activity happen. Fortunately, I had a little help from my friend Carol who has many musical talents in her tote bag of giftedness.

We started the activity with a review of the brain’s cognitive and emotional functioning (something they’d covered just a few days earlier). Covering the whiteboard with brain functioning words and phrases, the next step was to create rhyming poems using that vocabulary. Within twenty minutes they were sharing what they’d each written. One person’s poem became the obvious chorus. Phrases from other poem couplets were cobbled together for the  additional three verses that were ordered and reordered to best tell the story of the limbic lag. We listened to a few YouTube selections to catch the rhythmic rap beat. A group began to rap the lyrics written on the whiteboard, snapping fingers and grooving to the beat of the poetry. Another woman began a percussive back beat on the tabletop; others joined in. Someone went to get the staff. At the end of an hour and half they performed their first rough cut rap of The Limbic Lag. 

The Limbic Lag rap song was partly created because I was willing to step off a hundred foot cliff of risk and stretch myself to participate in something I had no natural aptitude for accomplishing. I risked trusting a dream given to me even though there was a real possibility that I would look a fool.

What hundred foot cliffs have you risked jumping off? What difference did it make in your life? Is there a life-stretching risk before you right now? What keeps you from making the leap? How has trusting a dream/being a fool played out in your life? How about creating a collage around that tension? What would it look like?

Looking forward to your rap songs of risk!

BTY – The painting above is my version of renowned Swiss artist Paul Klee’s Old Man – Going Senile. Mine is entitled Old Woman – In Her Right Mind (a nod to being left-handed). It resides in the Fresno office of Barracuda Networks.


8 comments to Risk

  • Mary Boalt

    When can we hear/see The Limbic Lag? Will you post it on You Tube?

  • Deanna J Bowling

    I don’t have a rap song for this, but this is what’s on my mind today, so you be the judge as to whether it fits.

    There are several numbers that I keep in mind. I was 18 months old when the emotional detachment happened that sent me into a life of believing at the core that I am irrelevant. I started therapy when I was 34. It will be 20 years on Easter since I first attended my first service at my(our) church. And it will be my 3rd appointment tomorrow with my new therapist. 2 weeks ago, my therapist told me that a narcissist doesn’t make a good parent, speaking to my mother’s result of her life long belief that she was irrelevant. And my dad had his own issues.

    I believe that GOD specifically picks who we are born to, our individual blood lines. Even though my parents didn’t make the best of parents, I know that GOD picked them to birth me, so now it’s time for me to find out why, to pick up again the string that drives my life, and where it is leading to.

    This new journey that I am about to start is to me a great RISK because there may be things that I am going to have to own, at 67, another number that I carry around.

  • Amy Tuttle

    Lovely post! So glad that you tried the rap and that the group responded so well! Also, your story of bungee jumping is great, haha…so brave. I think that my most significant learning experiences (spiritually, emotionally, cognitively) have been in the times that I have taken the jump, accepted a major risk. I do, in fact, have an opportunity to take a risk in my life right now. Short version: I have been working a job that is a poor match for my personality in order to have a small bit of financial security, at the same time I am sitting on a wealth of knowledge and passion regarding community arts. I am also sitting in an amazing property that I have called the Sankofa House. This property had been an abandoned drug house and my husband and I have been working to transform it with art. However, my efforts have only been part-time and safe. I haven’t let myself get fully into it or engage with my community in the ways in which I am passionate, as well as knowledgeable. So I guess my fear is jumping head first into my true passion and being disappointed, and possibly financially insecure. But then I am reminded of the scripture: where your treasure is, there your heart is also. I will be thinking more about this. Thanks so much for your prompt!

  • Deborah Loyd

    Lynn… very inspiring, girlfriend! I couldn’t even define what risk would mean to me at this point in my life. Voice is usually involved in my risky times, all aspects of it. So your story of the rap song really hit home. I have an internal rhythm (not necessarily musical) that screams to get out.
    Thank you for your musings.

  • Julia Smith

    A limbic lag rap!…love it!! Hope you post the words

  • Robin Rice

    I soooooo hope that we get to see a video of the rap some day! Too cool.

  • Aahmes Overton

    What a blessing to the Lighthouse women, and to all the rest of us, that God gave
    you – Lynne – the gifts that He did. – Aahmes

  • Judy Siudara

    Lynne, who else would have thought of Woman … for the title of your banner.! I tried to write this in comments, but it did not like my e-mail address. The picture of you rapping out is also quite wonderful to me.These blogs are so wonderful to me.

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