Funny thing about being a grown up… we don’t always realize our fears. When we are children, we are clear about what frightens us. The dark. What is IN the dark. What is under the bed in the dark. The rational and irrational.
I had a conversation with a friend recently about how fears (and other stuff) may just be built-in. Imprinted on our DNA like the color of our eyes and hair. So…as kids, we just ARE afraid of stuff. We vocalize it. Then we either forget it, grow out of it, overcome it, or remain fearful.
As adults, we can put our finger on those fears. Turn to the nearest adult right now, and ask them what they are afraid of. I’m guessing you will get the usual responses. Spiders, snakes, worms, heights, water, fire. If they wait a beat or two, you may get deeper answers. Illness, death, the loss of a child… the deep stuff. Those are the obvious monsters under the bed.
Now, ask them (or yourself), what have you NOT done in your life that you wish you had. What is something you don’t think you can do, but wish you could? The older we get, the better we become at overthinking. Rationalizing. Ignoring.
As I type this, I am sitting in a café on the corner of 9th and 21st, watching the city go by. It’s hard enough to stay focused, but the soundtrack in the ceiling began with some familiar stuff by ABBA, and now Roxette is singing “It Must Have Been Love”, and I find myself getting misty. Yes, I’m picturing Julia Roberts in the back of a limo, driving away from the Beverly Wilshire and glancing behind her (don’t judge). I want to move from my hard chair to the comfy couch. I want to lean back, take a long sip of my iced white ginger pear tea (holy moly it’s GOOD!), close my eyes, and just listen to the music… remembering where I was when all these songs were in the Top 40. My Moroccan barista keeps attempting to convince me to try the Raspberry Nectar tea. Then he brought me an empanada. And now gave me a button from his apron. I think I’ll stay… There’s a guy in the corner who has completely reclined on the bench by the window, and has propped his laptop on his chest as he writes.
I take a deep breath and rub my eyes. I make a mental note to never go back to the salon with the woman who decided my eyebrows needed to by thin, uneven and stubbly. I stare across the street at one of my favorite breakfast places and consider having eggs for dinner later. There’s a popsicle vendor crossing the street, and I remember it’s hot outside. The sun is shining, and I want to go on a walkabout.
I consider tapping the woman next to me on the shoulder and asking if she might read the blog I wrote earlier. Wait, what? What’s happening? I need validation? Really?
See what happened there? That is my monkey brain. On caffeine. The rambling that I do oh-so-well. But… is that my avoidance? I have a sneaky feeling that I have a fear. And I won’t speak its name. But the rambling takes me away from it. Sort of. Unless I write the ramble down.
I put my hands back down on the keyboard. I pause for a moment to appreciate my nails. Fresh Eggplant with a topcoat of Twinkle Little Star. Nice. And then I start tapping away again.
If anyone were to glance my way, they might think I am writing an email. Or working, or chatting, or putting the finishing touches on a novel. Perhaps I am typing “All Work And No Play Makes Sandi A Dull Girl” over and over again until Shelley Duvall discovers that I’m crazy. But I’m blogging. And dreaming. And slowly…slowly…conquering a fear.
Last night, I had a long talk with a friend who has to face something scary. Once upon a time, we watched a friend of ours with a fear of heights jump out of a plane. Long before that, I held on to my Dad’s finger while I jumped into the pool (for the first time without him being in the pool to catch me). I thought about jumping. I wondered if I had ever helped someone jump. I texted my girls to ask if I had ever helped them conquer any fears.
Doofenshmirtz answered: “Pain. Think of your nose.”
*Let me explain… when Skotchdopole was born, I used Lamaze to get through labor (yes, I realize that’s about the stupidest thing ever, and I found out later it was invented by a dude. Ugh!), and although childbirth hurt like a sonofabitch, I began to utilize the distraction technique for getting through stuff. So whenever Doofenshmirtz hurt herself as a toddler, I would put my face in front of hers and demand that she think of her nose. She was surprised at first, but I would ask her how her nose felt. Then her cheeks. Her eyes. Her ears. The more she concentrated on those parts of her face, the less she focused on the pain.
She followed that answer with, “I do that for literally everything. It helped me realize that pain is temporary.”
Of course I burst into tears (stupid hormones).
So maybe focusing on my distraction is helping me conquer my fear. Turns out, the view from here is so much more than just New York City street life.
Roxette just started to sing “Listen To Your Heart”. Okay, Roxette, okay. I will pack up my laptop, grab my iced Raspberry Nectar to go, and head out to enjoy the distractions of the day.