|If this is the view from the bottom--I love it|
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
It took me about 15 minutes to reacquaint myself with the art of rollerblading this afternoon. The weather here in Wisconsin has been unusually beautiful (I am NOT complaining) for this time of year. Usually, October isn't quite this beautiful. I can't seem to get any homework done when it's so nice out. The warm breeze and the fall colors don't just whisper my name, they shout it. The smells of fall bring back so many memories for me. Not all of them are good. In fact, I have not enjoyed this crisp, vibrant season for many years because of memories. Research tells us that our sense of smell is the strongest sense tied to memory. I didn't need research to tell me that. There seem to be a number of things that I thought I needed research (or at least some sort of tangible, empirical evidence) to tell me before I would accept. Gradually, this is becoming less and less necessary for me. Honestly, I can say confidently, in this moment, that there are things I simply neither need nor want to know. I am absolutely content in knowing only how I feel.
Feel. That used to be worse than the "real" "F-word" in my life. Now, I don't, and can't do things that don't feel right in my heart or in my body. I can't even pretend. Yet the most predominant feeling for me lately? Fear. Most people don't believe me. I am not lying when I say that about 85-90% of everything that I do, incites fear and trembling into the trillions of cells in my body. If you have the opportunity to know me in person, sometimes you can physically see or hear those cells quivering with fear. My hands shake, my voice cracks, and the reason I lock my knees so often, isn't completely because my body is accustomed from 15 years of ballet. No, many times I do it to keep my damn legs from shaking! However, most of the time, I am the only one is privy to my fear. I feel almost as if my breath is being dragged up and down a flight of stairs inside my chest, tumbling with uncertainty down each step or hesitantly resisting its next increment upward. I am thankful that I can really talk myself lovingly into just doing it and pretending I am not scared. True confession.
Back to this afternoon and rollerblading. I have only successfully done this 3 times in the past year. That number reflects fear. I'm scared of looking stupid and clumsy, I'm scared of people looking at me and wondering why I would even try this, I am scared of seeing someone I know, I am scared of getting to and from the paved trails on my bike, and of course I am scared of falling. I'll really look stupid if I fall. I've been told my fears are "real, but not true." I feel them, but the things that I fear may or may not be true. Most of the time, they aren't presently true, nor will they ever come true. Once and awhile, I can smile into this fear and just let it be there and do what my fun-loving spirit wants to do. Today was one of those days. I was feeling pretty good as I biked to the trail I planned to cruise. That changed when I felt the awkward stiffness of the rollerblades. My shins staged a revolt and my balance was off. I had just about gotten a feel for the swaying, weight-shifting, and pushing off required to move smoothly across the pavement. When I relaxed my arms and let them play into the balancing dance required to propel me forward gracefully, I thought I had finally gotten it. Well, in my equation, I hadn't calculated a disruption in my velocity and forward motion. This disruption: a stick. Yep. Wipe out. Of course someone saw me. A man on a bike slowed a bit as he passed and gave me an inquisitive thumbs up, as if saying, "you're ok, right?" Truth is, I was. I had some pretty great "road rash, but ironically, the fall had not hurt. I confidently responded with a head nod and a firm thumbs up that said, "yup, I'm getting up right now."
He continued on his way, but I moved three inches into the grass and looked around. I realized that the musty smell of leaves, and warm autumn breeze felt safer. The sounds of football helmets clacking and referee whistles screeching in the distance, brought a smile to my face instead of the familiar clenching of my jaw and fists. Those feelings had become so familiar in the past 13 years. I wasn't drifting rapidly into dark memories, even after feeling familiar shame and embarrassment in the wake of wiping out on the pavement. No, as I looked to my left, and directly in front of me, I saw how beautiful colors and smells were bathed in the bright, glittering sun as it began to drop slowly down in the western horizon. I had to fall in order to find the beauty in what was already right there. I wasn't hurt. I wasn't even thinking about my fear. The fall was just the way to where I really needed to be at that moment. Maybe wiping out is the way to wipe away some of this fear. I know it did today. And what I saw behind the fear was pretty spectacular, both inside of me and in the beauty that surrounded me.