Sunday Scribbling: Fearless
I was sitting here looking at that word - Fearless - and pondering where the start might be. What was my way in to "Fearless" as a topic for Sunday Scribblings? Oh, I knew - more or less - what it was I'd want to say, but hadn't yet fixed on the entry point. This is not usual for me with Sunday Scribblings. Usually, I write the title and jump right in.
As I sat there, ruminating, my phone rang. "Where are you?" my friend, K, asked. "I'm at home. Why?" I responded. "I bought a house!" she says. A house! Well, I had to abandon couch, computer and home straight away to go visit, to walk around to see the house that last week wasn't even on her radar, and that today - all going well - is set to be her new home very soon!
Before I left my house, I went in search of a couple of really pretty cards I'd bought a while ago, chose one of them and wrote in it. "K, your courage and willingness to leap is an inspiration to me..." It is. K is not a fearless woman. She has all the fears that any woman in her 50's who finds herself, after more than 25 years of marriage, alone and responsible for all the details of her life - present and future - might have. But she takes the leap anyway.
This is what I wanted to say about Fearlessness. It's not a state to which I aspire. I have another friend who told me - and it has truth in it - that "Fear is in the future". If we live in the present, there is no fear. Fear is all about what might happen next, or later, tomorrow, next year, when I'm 70... But still, even knowing that on an intellectual level, during my early days of being alone after my marriage ended, I would find myself waking early in the mornings, my stomach churning, in terror of something, anything awful happening, and having no protector, no shield, no-one but myself on whom I could rely. I was full of fears. But they could not all be named. I was a ball, a bundle, a mess of fear, and compared to those days, I am now pretty fearless, but still, whenever I contemplate something new, something I have not done before, I feel that panicky feeling in my stomach, my breathing becomes shallow and tight, and I have to remind myself to calm down, to relax, to "B-r-e-a-t-h-e". And when I do, I can face the new, the unknown, and make it through, and then, I am thankful for the fear. Coming through it is part of the growth. If there was no fear, there would be less satisfaction in the achievement.
When I set off for Yosemite last year, I didn't think about driving up, up, up, mountains higher than anything I'd driven on before. I didn't - for some reason - focus on the fact that if you have really high waterfalls there, then you have to have really high mountains from which they can fall; and that you can't get there without driving up some mountainous roads. As I drove, and began to see signs reminding me of the elevation, I felt a flutter of anxiety grow into a flurry of fear and panic. When I had a chance to pull in, I did, and breathed, and breathed. And looked at the road. Up and down.
Other cars travel there. Other people are doing this all the time. Why should I be any different? My car isn't any different. I sat back in behind the wheel, and went on. My delight in that few days was all the greater for having overcome a fear, for having pushed through. Travelling alone - same thing.
I don't want to be fearless. I don't want to be paralyzed by fear. I want to be able to do what Susan Jeffers suggests: I want to be able to Feel the Fear, and Do It Anyway. When I was with K today, and we marvelled at how much has changed for her in the past year, she told me she thinks she might even be ready at last to learn to drive. She can see herself doing it now. She knows it will be scary, but she's done so many scary things now, and survived them, she is willing to try one more scary thing.
I say Go for it. If it frightens you, but other people manage it, then why shouldn't you? Fearlessness is much over-rated. I say if there is a fear, allow it to be, look it in the eye, and tell it its days are numbered!
For more Fearless tales go to Sunday Scribblings.
Friends, If you haven't yet read my post about Jen Ballantyne, please do. She's an incredible woman who needs help, support, caring, prayers, people to witness her experience of cancer. Or just go straight to her blog and wish her well. She is not without her fears, but she is oh, so very brave, and she appreciates every word and thought that comes her way. Thank you.