The safe road is the one I’ve already been on. It’s the road with the memory of before that informs me of my limits. It tells me where I need to stop so I don’t feel pain. It’s the road that can’t see the future because what is in front of me is from the past. What if the road itself is a construct that doesn’t have to exist? What if a risk could involve flight? What if we never have to land because what is above is stronger than gravity?
Risk itself seems scary. True fear is the underlying inability to trust what is out of my control. Control is an illusion and I have based so much on a false reality. I can’t control anything. I can try to align things in a way that they might fall in expected patterns, but really I have no choice in what happens, only how I respond or react to it. I get to give my fear away to the risks I am willing to take. I get to see what happens and I get to start controlling how I choose to respond. I get to live in this moment, at this time, right now. I won’t fear the past because it’s already happened and I won’t give up my future to what I may never see.
The poets get it wrong. Love is not painful. Knowing what love is and then knowing what it feels like when it goes away is where we find the pain that so many write about. We go from the excitement of finding someone that seems so amazing that there has to be a catch. We look forward to a smile and try to memorize a voice and when it combines into the sound of their laughter there isn’t a sound in the world that can hold more magic. We long for the scent of their body calling us closer. We crave the warmth of a hug and tender kisses that melt us into a puddle of carefree abandon in arms strong enough to support us. We like knowing that what we are waiting for is sitting in ourselves for someone else and they are just as excited to see us.
I look for the loose strings that could unravel a blanket and I pull and yank. When it’s still beautiful, I begin to trust that this blanket could keep me warm and comfort insecurities. I start taking it everywhere, and start wrapping it into shapes that make the blanket into a vessel and I pour all of my hopes, fears, and insecurities into it. I expect it to still be beautiful even though I’ve twisted it into something it was never meant to be, and I’ve given it a heavier burden than it was ever meant to carry. At some point, the blanket is still a blanket and it will need to be shaken out to rid itself of the positions I’ve forced it into, dropping the weight of my belongings, and freeing itself of the crumbs I’ve left from that gluten free cracker binge during the latest novel I read while ignoring the fact that the blanket needed to be more than my blanket and had a beauty of its own to display. There’s a disconnect and a shift and the flat blanket and my strewn belongings leave me lost and in pain and suddenly cold, and I am left picking up my things that may have gotten broken when they landed on the floor. Maybe I should have put my own things away instead of throwing them on the bed.
I picked the kids up early on Sunday evening, and they were distraught because as Kid3 put it, “Daddy tried to lie about where you were. He said you were on a date at the beach.” All 3 were angry. Kid3 was able to express that he felt like his trust was violated. I reminded the kids that the beach is my special place and while I’ve taken them to the beach, I haven’t taken any dates to the beach. I prefer to go alone. The last time I was at the beach with my son I saw that photographer that wants what I’m not offering and I waved but didn’t stop because my son doesn’t need to worry about anyone that I wouldn’t want to make into a step dad. I reminded them that I had a class over the weekend and I told them I wouldn’t be available in the week leading up to it. My kids need to know what is coming. They were prepared. After that was settled, I told them if they were upset with their parents, it’s their responsibility to tell us what we did wrong so we can fix it. They did good in telling me, but they can talk to their Dad too.
Last night my son asked for an app on the old iPhone I gave him when I upgraded my phone. It allows you to prank dial people and it was free, and I didn’t mind. Actually, I was in the middle of a very fun venture toward risk in my own love life. I wasn’t concerned. It’s summer and phone shenanigans were my thing at his age too. My son was with his grandmother, my younger siblings and his cousins. A while later I got an angry call from his Dad because my son’s game looked like a car accident with my ex’s name and number as the responsible party. There were calls to his special friend as well and they thought it was my idea to be a 12 year old. To my ex, it looked like I had someone in my family (my mom’s number) harassing him and his special friend. There was ugliness for me to face but I’m a grown up.
It was a moment when I felt pride in my son. I know, it looks like I was happy that my son would try to annoy his father. It’s not that at all. Prank calling his Dad was my son’s risk in telling him he was angry. He didn’t use words expressing his feelings. They don’t have the rapport we do. But he expressed his anger and frustration, rather than holding it in. We’ll have to have a talk about his need to defend me. After all, I’m a grown up when I’m not crushing hard on a hottie.
This weekend I decided I would take greater risks in my writing. I’m playing with ideas and outlining that great big terrifying novel I’ve always wanted to write. Scrivener will finally get the attention I promised when I paid for it. My laptop will finally be used for more than a blog post and random searches to satisfy my curiosity. Or my more sappy lovesick stalking sessions. I will rip open healed wounds and pour myself into my writing in a way that I’ve always feared because it’s time. I’m ready. The fear of not being creative enough, or not having time, or coming up with stupid ideas that no one will care about are now unwelcome guests that I never planned to invite to my party. I’ve sent them home and changed the locks.
So much of what I do or have done is dictated by the results I’ve already seen. True risk involves taking chances based on the dreams you have. Big or small, a dream is a dream and either it will happen or it won’t. I will not wait until I have what I think I need. I will not wait until I can do what I think I need to do. I’m here. I can be what I want to be, right here and now.
I had a conversation with my Mom last night that started after a hug that surprised her. It was a hug where I held her tight and wrapped my love into her being. It was after I looked her in the eyes and really told her how much I appreciated her. There was a moment this weekend when I thought back to the time when she had me. There was a moment when I saw the situation she faced and considered what I might have felt in her shoes. I never once felt like she treated me the way I would have felt. She only gave me love, no matter how many times I pushed or walked all over her. I told her about the daughter I saw in her when she cared for my grandmother until her last day. I told her how proud I was of her example. I later saw my step-dad and we talked from our car windows, but it was a moment of telling him that I appreciate the man he is to me and my children. I told him I loved him. Both times I was wounded by the surprise I received because I could see how much of my authenticity I was holding away from two people that mean so much to me. I’m amazed at the beauty I can see in the people around me and I don’t want to go back to who I was before I really saw all I did in my parents and myself this past weekend.
The Unknown in Others
So much fear comes from what we don’t know or understand. It looks like what we use to separate us from other people. Race, sexual orientation, ability, belief . . . They are excuses to strange ourselves as we ostracise others. Embrace what you don’t know. I don’t mean blatant cultural appropriation but a full and meaningful embrace of what is unknown to the point where fear becomes appreciation of the neighbor you at one time didn’t understand. Embrace different. Take a risk and be rewarded by it.