I would be lying if I said I lived without fear. Brave and courageous are two words I would never use to describe myself. Many times, my internal dialog sounds something like this: what will “they” think? what if i fail? what if i fall? what if my body gets hurt or won’t do the right thing or looks weird? what if everyone thinks i’m too fat or too old or too conservative or too liberal or too poor or too smart or not smart enough? what if they think i’m too granola?
There were many fearful voices in my childhood and I internalized a lot of them. Don’t hurt yourself. Protect your back. Don’t eat that; it will make you fat. What will _____ think?
I’m reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic and her earliest chapters are about the relationship between fear and creativity. By the way, she uses the word creativity to mean living a full life; a life with purpose. For some people, this means artistic creativity; for others, it could be entrepreneurship or — oh, I don’t know — becoming a counselor and yoga teacher at 50.
I’m sharing this picture because it has significance for me. Several years ago — almost 20 — my family full of little children went to spend a day at a park. There was a playground that had a balance beam on it. I spent my childhood walking on balance beams at recess and this one called my name. Surely, I could still do that, right? I wanted to be the mom who did things with her children and who showed them what was possible, so on the balance beam I went.
I got about 3/4 the way across and then I fell. My right leg landed soundly on the beam. For several days, I couldn’t bend my knee and I had a huge bruise up and down my lower leg.
I thought about that day last week as we were hiking through the trails of Pickwick Landing State Park, our location for Thanksgiving 2017. In more than one location, a fallen log lay on the ground, pretending to be a balance beam. I wondered if the results would be the same. While I didn’t find one to walk the length of, I did stop and do tree on a tree. It took focus (I can see it on my face — can you?), and I had to stop and start over a couple of times before I found my focus point, but then I did it.
Tree. On a tree.
And then I posted the picture even though my first thought was “I look fat. And my I love Jesus and naps shirt might offend somebody.” I posted it. And now I’m posting it again and I’m sharing my victory even though my current thought is, don’t brag on yourself. they make think you’re bragging. pride goes before destruction and haughty spirit before downfall.
I don’t know if this is Big Magic or not, but it’s facing fears.
And that has its own very special kind of magic.