It’s January 28, 2017.
I feel like West Alton, Missouri where the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers link arms to make the long journey to the Gulf of Mexico. There’s a state park there in order for us to witness nature taking charge and marching south. I like the idea of confluence. It’s two or more things gathering, gathering, gathering and then BOOM! all together now: FLOW. It’s powerful, it’s unstoppable, and it is the ultimate connection. Today all of the rivers and streams and tributaries in my life have converged on a single idea and I am watching in wonder as powerful, unstoppable, connecting things are happening.
It would be ungrateful of me to pass over 2014 as ‘water under the bridge’ because that’s when my tributaries started feeding me. I felt frightened by a twist in my path that I hadn’t mapped out when I started my journey. I had private conversations with trusted friends, I had God open Himself to me through symbols and imagery, I sought out extra spiritual boosts, and I watched, listened to, and read almost everything recommended to me. I thought and thought and thought. I wrote. I cried. I hoped. I prayed. I tumbled through some difficult moments. I made resolutions to be better next time. I went to classes and learned to set better boundaries. I submitted to my constantly shifting perspective. Recently I added yoga. All of this over the course of two and one half years has recently crescendoed from a ballad of ‘nice lessons’ to a single, solid chord of ‘bravery needed’. Like the mighty rivers gathering force, all that I have been doing/thinking/praying for culminated in Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly and Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart. Swept into the treachery of a swiftly moving current, the message for me is crystal clear: Lean into fear. Stop trying to outrun it. Open the door and invite it in. Sit with it. Learn from it. When it has given its full lecture, it will see its self out the door. Trust.
So this year my ‘goals’ look very different. The idea came and grew steadily in me, burning its rightness into my heart and mind. What I have not done is make a well-intentioned list containing all of the elements of a better version of myself. Those days are over- let us hope. What I did do was make a list of my fears. The list came together in thirty seconds flat. It’s not exhaustive (I’m sure), but the eight items that came without any effort whatsoever are getting my full attention. Two more stumbled across the finish line a couple of days later so I let them have a space under ‘February important dates’. It’s not fancy; it could be mistaken for a grocery list. But I do feel that even without all of the fanfare, it is my ticket to whole-hearted, fear-free living.
Just for curiosity’s sake, I will give you a peek at The List: physical scares (skiing-not for the obvious reasons- and road biking-that skinny tire…those toe clips-that’s serious vulnerability), intellectual scares (history/knowledge of current events-Yes, I am aware that Donald Trump was sworn in as president), homeschool scares (developing solid writing skills in my kids), creative scares (this blog), and emotional scares (BOO!). I’m tackling the physical scares first in hopes that the bravery I exhibit will carry over into some of the trickier fears. I start a month’s worth of ski lessons on Thursday. I am brave. Resolutely brave. Fear is welcome to come along and take a dive off the ski lift…right into the cool club.
No one ever tells us to stop running away from fear. We are very rarely told to move closer, to just be there, to become familiar with fear…dissociating from fear is what we do naturally..the next time you encounter fear, consider yourself lucky…brave people…are intimate with fear.
-When Things Fall Apart, Pema Chodron p. 4