Wednesday, April 17, 2013

the fantasy of before

Just the other week I was rocked by a massive A-ha courtesy of an A-ha maker extraordinaire, Brené Brown.  If you haven't done so already, do check out Dr. Brown's 2-part interview with Oprah on the show Super Soul Sunday.  What rocked me was the suggestion that the fear we experienced as a country after September 11 has been internalized and experienced individually in terms of feeling "not enough."  Not good enough, not safe enough, not capable enough.  And not enough to go around - scarcity thinking.

I have been sitting uncomfortably upon the fence of being in a job that does not fulfill me but which offers a modicum of financial security and certainty.  Of course, any sense of security is really smoke and mirrors as nothing is certain or constant or totally predictable.  But I've sat there for months years because I've been afraid.  Afraid there aren't any decent jobs out there, afraid no one will want me because my skill set is out-dated, afraid of what the future might hold and how the resources I will certainly be dipping into might be needed further down the road.  If I let myself go there (down the dark hallways of my mind) there are any number of bogeymen lying in wait for me.  

Rather than envisioning unimagined possibilities and adventures, my first thought when contemplating quitting my job is of a wasteland bereft of opportunity.  

Scarcity and fear.  I don't know of anyone who is free of those shackles.  In the wake of Boston, it is hard not to lock the doors, draw the blinds and be very still.  Make no waves, draw no attention to oneself and by all means, don't tempt fate, don't take chances. 

But isn't that the essence of life - taking chances?  I think about the millions of seemingly random acts, thoughts and decisions that resulted in my being married to my best friend for 25 years; being mother to my dragon warrior daughter;  friends with women who are my sisters, my tribe; and the random online links like bread crumb trails leading me to connect with teachers, mentors and friends all of whom have watered my soul and allowed the authentic me to emerge.  

I don't want be living my life in a tight ball of fear.  I don't see a finish line that I must cross to be safe and complete.  I most certainly do not want Cowgirl to grow up clinging to fear and scarcity because possibility and opportunity appear to be extinct.  The greatest gift I can give my girl is an example of choosing to believe in oneself, to believe in the goodness of Life and Love.  The world has always been a scary, dangerous and threatening place.  That is life.  It is a precious gift and one to be used, not tucked away bubble wrapped and locked inside a box.  

And now I laugh because everything I am saying here can be summed up by the movie "The Croods."  I don't want to be like the father Grug whose mission is to keep his family safe in their cave, even if that means spending 23 hours a day in darkness.  The message the loving father repeatedly shares with his children through stories and warnings is this: anything new is bad and being curious will get you killed. The end, go to sleep.

If I listen to the news, follow the chatter of the masses, believe the Grugs of the world, I can convince myself the world now is more dangerous and uncertain than ever before. But I know there has never been a golden age when life was safe or simple. There never was a time "before" fear.  Fear is a part of being alive.  It serves a useful purpose but it isn't real.  It is a projection into the future of one possibility, but one among many.  Among the other possibilities are our hopes, dreams, and aspirations. 

Fear also signals an important threshold is about to be crossed.  Once through, there is no going back.  Transitions are inherently dangerous, but almost always transformative. Trying to stay safe is impossible and it forestalls any possibility of growth. By trying to shelter my girl, I send her the message  that she is not capable or equipped to navigate life.  That she must hide and stay behind a line of safety that is like a chalk mark upon the pavement. Don't be too curious. Don't dare.  Stay small, stay safe.

Except complete safety and certainty do not exist and life has a way of washing out our chalk marks, leaving us naked and exposed.  Sitting on the fence is another form of exposure.  From my vantage point I can see where I want to go and I can see how I have been living behind that fence, in confinement.  The only thing I can do is jump off on the side of uncertainty which is also the side where real living takes place.

Feet in the air ... I'm in mid-jump.  Stay tuned.


  1. Ooooh! You're jumping off the fence! Can't wait to follow along and see where this new journey takes you.

  2. Two words: GO GIRL!!!!! :)


  3. agree - GO!!! beautiful words and a-ha's here, it is so true, fear can be such an invisible trap that often times we are completely unaware we are in her clutches. a lovely reminder...

  4. Your words resonate so beautifully! So glad that you jumped off the fence onto the other side. Enjoy your freedom and time in New Zealand. :)