I’ve been writing and rewriting this blog post for two days now, so I think instead of trying the same route, I’ll switch gears for a second. The original blog post was an examination of a small realization with large consequences, but it was one of those things where you start writing and open up a maze of topics that you’re unprepared (or in my case, unable) to tackle at the moment. I wanted to talk about an instant where I felt safe, where an unexpected knowledge that I could trust someone led me to make a small, brave choice that I would normally have avoided. Literally, I wanted to write a blog post about how I climbed a ladder without hesitation the other night, because I had watched someone else do it, and knew that I had nothing to worry about. But once I mention that I climbed a ladder, then I have to explain why that’s special. And then I have to go into greater detail about why I’d suddenly feel OK to do it now. And then I’d have to examine the difference between feeling safe, and feeling trust, and feeling brave. Believe me, the difference between the concepts is vast enough to keep me erasing entire blog posts for two days.
So instead, I’ll keep it short, and concentrate on the obvious bits. First, it’s obvious that I’m cautious – in some cases, overly so. That being the case, what many people wouldn’t know is that I’m actually game to do just about anything, as long as it’s fun and probably not going to get me killed. I love adventures. I just need to be with teammates that I trust implicitly. And there’s the rub – the older I get, the more I realize that I have very little trust to spare. Because I don’t trust, I don’t feel safe. Because I don’t feel safe, I don’t move far outside of my comfort zone. And though I’ve done some things that people seem to find courageous and amazing, I can’t do some of the most simple things that everyone else takes for granted. I will force myself to try just about anything, if someone that I know I can trust offers me a hand and tells me they’ve got my back. And pretty much every time that’s ever happened, I’ve had an amazing experience. I know this, and wish it could happen much more often. Too bad about that pesky not-trusting-people thing.
But the other night, I was brave, because I knew that I was with someone I could trust. I actually had two people that I could trust, who made me feel safe, though in different ways (one was a nurse). Of course, at the time, I was just concentrating on getting up a ladder and seeing some fireworks. Then the moment of truth came when I had to go back down, but that worked out just fine, too. It was only the next day that it hit me that in years past, I would have just stayed at the bottom of the ladder, letting the “cool kids” have their fun while I stayed in one piece on the ground. What was different?
I think that the answer is that I’m a work in progress. I’ve spent most of the last year on my own, just hanging out in my head, examining the things that make me strong. I’ve also looked at a lot of the things that make me feel weak, unsafe, and scared. I’ve done some soul-searching on just what it is that hasn’t worked in my life in the past, and what I wish I had done differently – and more importantly, what I wished that I’d required others to do in their dealings with me. I reassessed what it means to give, to allow others to give, to set up boundaries, to allow others to set up boundaries. Somewhere in there, I decided that I’d have to come out of my shell and make new friends if I was going to survive here. I haven’t become a social butterfly, and I’m not blindly trusting everyone I meet, but I’ve managed to luck into some great people. People who can get me to climb ladders.
This process is not done. This process will never be complete. I burned down my life and built it back. It’s not the first time, and it’s not the last, but hopefully it’s the most drastic. I just don’t want to go out on the same boring, listless wave I’ve been riding. I don’t just want to dream big. I aim to live it, too.