I watched her from the below, I saw her take a big deep breath as she looked over the edge. She took a step back and then walked forward again, another deep breath, she bit her lip and then she did it, she just did it. I was so proud of her – she conquered a fear.
I knew she would be okay, I was standing at the end of it, I knew what it looked like, I could see the path and I could see the end and I knew she would be fine. I knew. I had done it before and I knew it but she didn’t, it was new for her, it was scary and she couldn’t rest on my lack of fear. She had to face it herself, she had to try it herself. It was a big water slide at a park, to me it was no big deal, a big slide with some water but to her it was high off the ground, it was a long drop and she didn’t know what it would feel like.
It was a water slide – to you and me that was all it was, but to her it was a whole bunch of “what if’s.”
Have you been here, wanting to do that thing that you’ve never done before but fear chokes you? Your body almost seizes up and the impending doom of the what if’s swirl around in your head and talk you out of it.
Fear for the right reasons is good but fear that keeps us from growing or changing or just living in general is not so good.
My littlest loves to watch a movie that reminded me of this very scenario – you might be familiar with it, it’s called The Croods and my favorite line is when the daughter Eep says to her father :
“This isn’t living…this is just ‘not dying’”
The Croods are cave people, the last ones on earth apparently. They have survived various life threatening events ranging from apocalyptic type natural disasters to sharing their world with predators such as mosquitoes the size of dinosaurs. The father claims responsibility for keeping them alive in this not so safe world by setting a multitude of “No” rules keeping everyone from harm because everything is BAD.
While I’m sure every parent can relate to this on some level and there is a huge amount of validity to it considering most children have a mute button on their ability to understand safety. The problem with said rules is that the everything that is new or different is bad rule came into play in any and every situation. This renders the Croods living a ‘non living’ sort of existence hiding out in caves and behind rocks for their entire lives.
“We aren’t living…we are just ‘not dying”
This is true for a lot of people. Have you ever known someone who lives like this? Have you ever been that person? The one who says: What if to everything. No to everything. That’s too risky or different to everything.
While assessing life decisions comes from wisdom; not living out of unmerited fears keeps us from actually living. Not living can come in a multitude of forms. I’m not talking about bungee jumping or sky diving – fear can take over in the most basic forms of life:
Not letting anyone in because of a fear of being hurt and rejected. Not letting anyone see you because of a fear of not being enough. Not giving, not compromising, not reaching out, not forgiving, not – you fill in the blank – is not living.
Sometimes falling teaches us how to stand up. Sometimes being rejected teaches us how not to reject. Sometimes moving teaches us that we were stagnant.
Risk is bravery and truly living is to be brave in almost everything.
It demands something of us that can’t be counted, calculated or controlled.
To be known, I mean truly known and understood, is to risk. To be loved is to risk. To love others is a risk. To step outside of ourselves is a risk. To step inside of someone else’s world is a risk. To forgive is a risk. To be who we are instead of who others think they are is a risk. To try is a risk. There are so many risks, so many variables and yet truly living can’t be a moment by moment calculation.
Not dying is not living. Living is living.
So my precious one took a risk, she got on the slide and had the time of her life. So much that went back about 20 more times. Now would I want her to try bungee jumping right now? No. But what I do want for her, for myself and for anyone who wants to embrace the life they’ve been given, is to have the bravery it takes to try new things and to experience the feeling of conquering the things in our lives that seem bigger. My daughter proved to herself in this that she could do it. She proved something that seemed bigger was something that she could face and life throws us many things that are bigger than us and yet we still face them.
She conquered something.
She conquered fear in this moment and for most of us that is what it really is…it’s conquering the fear moments one by one so that we actually live.