Truth be told, I’ve been afraid of many things for many years. I’ve been hesitant. Worried. I’ve held myself back, not spoken up, not been willing to try something new. Ignored out of lack of self-confidence. Shaken in my shoes, walked away, shuddered and retreated.
I’ve done this in little ways and big ways — about little things, big things, and everything in between. I could make a list.
Maybe it’s time we send fear to the wolves. Or to the flashy red cardinals winging here and there on the edges of any North Carolina forest in spring. We could send it to the dolphins — I’ve spent hours swimming with them. They know what to do with fear. They toss it. They frolic and play instead. They know more than either of us (you or me) about how to be (truly, only, fully) ourselves.
Frankly, I am tired of fear and its family. Restriction. Pressure. Shame. Must and should and shouldn’t and can’t.
I’m tired of tsk, tsk. Tongue wagging. No, no. Shhh. I am tired of averting my eyes.
I am truly tired of better and best. Achievement. Perfection. Not being ready, ever. Waiting. Holding back. Thinking I have to know something before I do something. I am tired of the very idea of mistakes.
Maybe if I let this fear family slide silently away, they can all go elsewhere for work. Maybe they could even take a well-deserved vacation.
Who knows, maybe fear is even tired of itself. Tired of the job, the responsibility, the relentlessness.
You never know…
When Eric died, before Eric died, when I hoped he wouldn’t die, when Eric denied that he was dying — I felt fear. All of those times, fear welled up. It oozed. Sometimes it galloped on black stallions in the dark night. Other times, fear opened quietly under water, came up with the sun, lingered in the sweet evening breeze.
Fear was present with me. I was present with it.
From this communion, I am acutely aware of the energy of fear and that it gathers momentum if you let it. It will live and breathe, gladly and with gusto. It will accumulate power and rule if you give it the time of day. But finally, in the end, fear slumps in the corner with red eyes and a tired heart, wearing only rags.
Like I said, I’m tired of fear.
I am weary to the bone of it.
ONCE UPON A TIME, LONG AGO AND FAR AWAY
Long ago, someone did a “reading” on me, some fancy machine or other, and I found my notes from the session while going through Eric’s things.
My notes were in his file, which caused me to pause. I wondered if the old truth of my notes still belonged to me, or if it ever had.
My notes said that I had an issue around the idea of “I can’t.”
Well, if “I can’t” is still here, if it is living and breathing and taking up space, I hereby send that out to the wolves, the cardinals and the dolphins, right along with the rest of the family. After all, “fear” and “I can’t” are probably kissing cousins.
Come to think of it, though, I have a friend named “Luna” and for a moth, she’s big (about the length of an iPhone). She doesn’t have a mouth or a digestive system, never eats, and lives for about a week after leaving the cocoon.
I know “Luna.” She visited lucky me one summer night, lingering on a window in my great room for an hour in the moonlight. We had a long and luxurious conversation.
Maybe Luna would fly with it and take it with her when she goes.
Alright, it’s settled. Whatever I think I can’t do, I give to Luna.
So, beautiful eye-winged creature with delicate tail streamers, take “can’t” and the fear family and whatever else I no longer need and do what you will with it. I offer it up. I give it to you with all my heart.
Maybe you could take it to the forest “with your one wild and precious life.” (Mary Oliver, The Summer Day)
And to dear you reading this, listening to this, contemplating this — what is it that you would give wings to?
Tell me, please.