Thursday, August 27, 2015

On the Zipline

This past weekend, I was thinking about how smart my husband is. One of the bajillion things I love about him is that he challenges my thinking.  I've always loved our conversations.

I was thinking this -- then a few hours later, I learned that he had thought of giving me a shark cage experience for my birthday.  Maybe he wasn't so smart after all?  Jayna had talked him out of it, apparently saying almost verbatim the impassioned remarks I would have made if he had actually gone through with it.

But, he announced, while he wasn't going to make me get in a cage surrounded by sharks for "fun", this birthday was to be my "face my fears" birthday.  He arranged something for me Sunday afternoon, and I had no idea what it was except that I had to wear shorts (not my favorite) and running shoes and be ready at noon with Annalee tanked up.  And Jayna was going with me.

Turned out: ziplining at Kualoa Ranch.  It was not at all scary (ssshh, don't tell him!), but provided great views and a whole lot of fun.  Jayna and I had a blast.

The next day, my actual birthday, I woke up in the wee hours to the sound of thunder, flashes of lightning illuminating my bedroom... And the sound of my phone going crazy with an emergency alert for a flash flood warning.  Now, we haven't been California dry, but it has been a very hot summer with much less rain than I remember from our past two summers here.  I love a good storm, so it felt kind of like a birthday present, except that Matt had planned more fear-facing that was now cancelled.  So he got me a hot stone massage instead.  It was amazing.  I hadn't  had one before, but it might be my favorite, at least from the woman who did it.  (I can see how it might not be so if someone didn't know what he/ she was doing.)

We also grabbed lunch out and went to Bellows.  Since it wasn't great swimming conditions, we walked on the beach before heading home for dinner (Matt made his famous tacos) and cake.  It was a really lovely, kind of quiet day, good for reflection.

I feel like my last birthday kicked off my best year yet. The year before had been a very tough one, but my pregnancy with Annalee started soon after my birthday, so it's kind of like she is my gift from last year.  Knowing her and how much delight she has added to our family casts this golden sheen on everything.

But then, when I put on my Honesty Glasses, I think of all the things that happened that weren't so great.  There was uncertainty, loads of stress, stinging disappointment.  There was plenty of fear that I had to face and fight.  It's just the perfect hindsight, knowing that it turned out great so far, that makes it seem so amazing.

So what I've been thinking is, even without ziplines and shark cages, getting up every day means facing your fears.  And when it's something good at stake, it's even scarier.  

After going through a particularly hard time at the beginning of high school, my confidence evaporated.  By the time I started college, it was almost paralyzing for me to talk to people, to request anything, to hope for a friend.  I literally shook when I talked to people.

Similarly, every time I click "publish" on this blog, I'm facing a fear.  I have this strong desire to write and share with the world.  It might be hard to understand, but sometimes it feels just like there's this itch that will only be relieved if I sit down and write. My blog gives me a place to practice what I love.  But sharing it is completely terrifying at the same time as it's relieving... if that makes any sense at all.  Sometimes, again, I'm literally shaking.  Or I wake up in the middle of the night regretting what I wrote.  Or I just don't publish at all.  I'm scared of what my friends and readers will think.  I'm scared of doing poorly.  I'm scared that when you see the messy glimpses of Real Me, you'll realize how flawed I am.  

Every time I think about educating my kids, it's terrifying.  On the one hand, it feels like the most natural and obvious thing to do. On the other hand, I feel like there is so much at stake.  What if I fail them?

I could just stay wrapped in my fear.  But if I had stayed afraid those days in my teens and early twenties, I would have missed so much -- so many friendships and just plain self-respect.  If I don't blog, which seems like the easy answer, I'll miss those opportunities when one person says, "You really encouraged me," or "That was so funny!" or "I can totally relate!" or "I don't feel so alone now," and then I'm basically happy dancing.  As for homeschooling, I really do love being this integral part of their education, especially now that we've been doing it for a few years, and I can see how far we've come.

But my ziplining experience, I think, provides a perfect metaphor, even if it didn't terrify me.  I showed up, not knowing what I was in for.  Then I stepped off the platform, the sure thing, trusting harnesses and cables that someone else had to think up and hopefully do correctly.  I was flying through the air, the wind against my face -- and it felt great.  But best of all was the view, so completely amazing.  

Then it was over all too soon... and all I wanted was to do it again. 

And I found myself thinking, Maybe I could do the shark cage.

{What are some fears you're facing?}

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