Posted by: Elizabeth Rose | March 28, 2011

“Leap Before You Look”

Hey!! Check out this pithy verse by WH Auden:
The sense of danger must not disappear:
The way is certainly both short and steep,
However gradual it looks from here;
Look if you like, but you will have to leap
A solitude ten thousand fathoms deep
Sustains the bed on which we lie, my dear;
Although I love you, you will have to leap;
Our dream of safety has to disappear.
(From Leap Before You Look by W.H. Auden, 1907 – 1973)

Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?  That “danger” that W.H. Auden refers to?

I am.  Not all the time.  But the danger comes up when I think about leaving my job and devoting full time to doing what I love.
OK – I’m going to quit.  This summer.  Promise.  Life’s too short to squander days, months, years, doing this.  I’d rather do that.   Ok.  I’m gonna quit my job.  And write. And perform.  And make laughter.  And…
“Oh yeah?” drools the Wolf who’s plopped down on his haunches right outside my door.   “Quit your job?  Are you sure you wanna do that?”
“Yep.  Sho’nuff.  Definitely.  I got some great stuff in me  and I need full time to focus and create…”
The Wolf growls.  “How you gonna eat?”
“I don’t eat much.”
“How you gonna pay the rent?”
“Come on, Wolfie.  ‘When you do what you love, the money follows.’  Didn’t you read that book?”
Wolfie laughs.  “Whaddya talkin’ about?  You high?  You rolled up some new age poppycock & smoking it in a blunt?”
“No,” I reply.  “I meditated on this verse today.”
“Great,” says Wolfie.  “Meditate on this!”  And he flashes his giant incisors.
I recoil slightly and glance back at Auden.  Poetry might save me.  Lessee…
The sense of danger must not disappear…”
Ohhh.  I get it.  I get it.  I gotta chill with Wolfie.  I can’t let him disappear.
“HEY WOLFIE!”  I fling my door open wide.  His incisors are still flashing at me.  “Soooo….how ’bout I quit my job and you show me around the woods?”
“You’re definitely high,” says my new canine BFF.  “Don’t you know I could eat you?”
“Have you considered becoming vegan?” I ask him as I step out of my comfortable little abode.  I give him a little pat on his forehead.
“I hate vegetarians,” Wolfe spits out.  “They taste like soy.  Crap. Carnivores, on the other hand, are tasty.”
“Have you ever had grilled tempeh with kale and sweet potatoes?  It’s mad awesome with red peppers.”
“Tell me more,” Wolfie says.  The thought of something new to eat warms him up a bit.   “You know…I’d like to show you my lair.  I’ve just redecorated.  I’ve got a great new Miele stainless steel grill,” he states with pride.
“Oh – I’m gonna grill you up some super delish yummy grub – you’ll never go back to meat.”
“Fascinating” Wolfie gives me his most charming smile.  His incisors are not flashing. “Shall we off, then?”
The poem returns to me….
“Our dream of safety has to disappear.”
..and the two of us take off together into the deeper forest.



  1. Great insights, Elizabeth! Sometime knowing that “I have some great stuff in me” means we need to leave the comfort of our little abodes. Hard to do when the wolf is always at the door. But necessary!

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