81. I think a lot about that character FEAR who lives in my head. The well intentioned one who reminds me what is lurking in every decision that I make – who I’ll impact, mostly. The one who tries to remind me that I am not in control. That it would be easier if someone else would just make this decision, already. Because then I wouldn’t have to take responsibility – no, that’s not it. Then the decision would be the right one. Because someone smarter, wiser, older, more impervious than I would make it and it would be right and done.
And I’m not talking about big things like quitting a job, moving across country, leaving a marriage; I’m talking about switching away from the guy who trims the trees cause the current guy isn’t very skilled and I like my trees.
This is my default way. They say that your greatest weakness is also your greatest strength. So I guess mine is feeling empathy to the point of paralysis. Gah.
But once, just once in my life, when I was moving from DC to Seattle, did I have sustained clarity and joy over fear. For a few solid months, my mind truly felt on a different river in a different valley. I felt optimism, clarity, power in me alone, and strength. I think fear was really, really tired and napping. And whew what a relief that was. I was sitting at dinner with my friend Caitlin, and she was moving to Asheville at the same time I was moving to Seattle. We were both leaving our communities, our homes, our pasts and our careers as we knew them, all for the unknown. Both alone, and at an age when we acutely felt our last childbearing years dripping away day by day, in increments of 28. As we sat there, she spun down the spiral FEAR had woven, the known tentacles of danger lurking in every dark, unknown corner. And that brilliant river woman that I was in that fleeting moment just touched her hand and said “And what if it all works out? We spend all of our lives preparing for the unknown by building protections, tempering risk, or at least thinking through all of the horrible outcomes. But what if the more likely outcome is true? That it’s all going to be fine, great even? Why don’t we put ANY energy toward preparing for that?” That was six years ago. And it’s all fine, great even. I remember her big fears. I’m pretty sure none of them came true. But what she was searching for when she moved: community, husband, child, family – those are all true for her now. I hope she was prepared.
It has been a scary few years. A tough time for so many of us in so many ways. I hope, if you’re facing fear right now in the face of a change, big or little, that you can bring up a deep joy and smile in knowing that it all might be fine, great even.