Saturday, April 12, 2008

Learning to Fly

When you start exploring your inner life, you encounter things that please you--and some that don't. It's a balance in there--of shadow and light, repressed and icky bits and shining potential.

This is about one of the unshiny things I discovered shoved into the back of the shadow drawer: It's my tendency to NOT jump. What I mean is, given a cliff or, to be more specific, a job opportunity, party full of strangers or invitation to take a walk down a new road, I have a tendency to say no before I look or leap. It's automatic, happens every time. If you know me, you've seen it happen. I think that I do this because I am afraid of feeling a certain way... I think that it's based on an inner doubt.

It wouldn't bother me that much except that, as I pulled this particular shadow from the drawer, I realized that it looks alot like my kids. What I mean is, I seem to have passed this one down--and that will never do.

It's a habit. It comes from the idea that I am vulnerable, somewhere in there is my mom's voice, asking, "Are you sure you can handle that?" whenever I'd talk about something I was hoping to try or do or create. I know now, that it was her way of saying, I love you, don't get hurt. But it was also crippling because it created in me the doubt, "Maybe I'm not up to that." A doubt that I adopted and carried on without her for the rest of my life.

Tom said to me yesterday, "It sounds like a lot of work," and I thouht, he is so right. It is alot of work, peeling away layer after layer before I let myself feel or know or just be.

I am practicing little jumps--like sending an essay to BeliefNet or writing a letter to someone I admire. Last month, I sent an email to the editor I'd worked with ten years ago, back when I had an agent all ready to receive and represent my fiction project. I am practicing saying, Yes, when my husband says, "Wanna take a walk?", when a friend invites me to hear him sing, when my son pulls out a deck of cards and says, "Will you play with me?"

You'd think it would be easy--these are all things I love to do: Walking with a loved one, listening to a friend make beautiful music, being with my children in all ways. Yet, each of these requests has, at one time or another, been met with that "no" that comes from my mouth before Ive really considered the invitation.

These are the things Im thinking about tonight.

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