A photo popped up on my screen this week of a beautiful ocean view, from a family trip to Hawaii a few years ago. We went kayaking and snorkeling on New Year’s Day, a glorious way to start the year.
Except. I am really not comfortable in the water, especially water that does not have walls around it. I like to have my feet on the floor, or my hand on a wall. Sometimes both.
I‘ve read books. I’ve had coaching and classes. I’ve used fancy water shoes and snorkel masks. Bit by bit, things have gotten better.
Here is what I’ve learned from many years of trying to conquer my fears. The tools and book help, a little. Actual people help way more. Practice is essential. And maybe most important, ”conquer” is an unhelpful verb.
Brute force got me the first few steps. In a chlorinated pool, with whistles and shouted instructions all around, I managed the very basic essentials of not drowning.
But what got me to let go of the edge was not conquering – it was curiosity. Seeing the flash of a sea turtle, I wanted so badly to follow it. I wanted to see where it was going, who else was down there. Gradually that turtle helped me to see other possibilities, other worlds, and to experience the possibility of feeling floaty and untethered and still safe.
Friends, we are so good at fear, rooted to the floors and holding tight to the walls.
And we are so good at conquering, with plans and data and language of war.
Those supports and weapons serve us well, and keep us safe. But they are not meant to apply to all of life.
Dear ones, in this time of when masking and cleaning and distancing is smart and needed and quickly becoming a default way of life, we need to most urgently ask,
Where is the turtle?
Where can my curiosity take me? Where can I let go? Where can I float free?
Who knows what we might discover when we do.
Photo from Wikimedia commons.