Immobilized by fear, white-knuckling the handlebars, I pedaled faster. Faster faster faster. My heart gurgled and sputtered, like a rusty engine. Ignore it. Shove it down. Just keep going faster.
Shallow breaths came quickly and exited all the same. Breathe, I told myself. Get a grip. Just breathe.
But my solace wasn’t working. My escapade into nature couldn’t turn off the anxiety creeping in around me like a smothering blanket of worry worry worry. I couldn’t breathe easy, couldn’t make sense of what topsy-turvy mess of a world my life had become in 3 days time. I needed a release from the all-powerful FEAR of loss, of regret, of ineptitude – but nothing I did eased the pain.
The lines on my face had darkened overnight. The grief I now felt so acutely had all but consumed me. Long ago did the days of serendipity seem to me. The life I had – the life that I had always wanted – now felt like a ticking time bomb that had exploded in the atmosphere, falling as particulate matter all around me. Shards of glass, where a beautiful panorama of stain-glass majesty once stood. A lot can happen in a month.
Where am I now? Cautiously optimistic. (Better than being shackled by the reigns of terror and fear, that’s for sure.) It took a hell of a surrender – and the screeching wheels of a truck gone-rogue – to jolt me back to the present reality.
Today. This hour, this moment. This. This is all I have. This is what I have to give, who I have to spend my time with. There is nothing else that matters.
I have realized over the past several weeks how much of my life I have lived in fear. Not always apparent, ever-so shallow from the surface of normality, but fear nonetheless.
I have feared rejection. I have feared loss. I have feared opening myself up too quickly, being too vulnerable, or being too intimidating. I have feared ignorance. I have feared what my future holds. I have feared, perhaps every day of my life, of making an irreversible wrong decision.
I have many fears, fears that are rational and fears that are, rightly, irrational. I have feared disappointment from friends and family. Disappointment, most of all, from myself.
When I look back on all of my years of struggle and laughter, I can chart this course of fear like a trail of breadcrumbs. There has never been a chapter of my life where I have not succumbed or silenced my inner voice because of fear.
What a disheartening revelation this has made for me.
Living in fear can be destabilizing for any human being. But I realize now I have continually skirted this omnipresent reality of mine, and it is just altogether, utterly unacceptable to live the rest of my life chained by this fear. The fear of society, of finances, of friendships, or of personal enlightenment can and will no longer have dominion over my right to live my life as I see fit.
I don’t want to be afraid to create. To create art, to create words and poetry, to create meaning and emotion and empathy. To create beauty.
I don’t want to be afraid to give all I have and expect nothing in return. And still remember to smile.
I don’t want to be afraid to live the only life I have ever known – that of a writer – or to sacrifice my voice or opinions for the sake of complacency.
Maybe you’ve heard this all from me before, but this time the intention is different. Instead of figuring it all out in the context of a career, I’m addressing the fear that surrounds MY LIFE – all the corners and the edges I keep so cleanly concealed. The dusty-old fear has to exit from those fringes, too.
This is my new intention: To live a life – whole and messy and unconventional – without fear. Simply stated, but what a power behind those words.
Until next month,
This post also appears on labellamemoir.tumblr.com