I’ve always been a master of the hedge, the back door left ajar, the psychological bolthole where I can slip if this doesn’t go well.  Work, art, music, relationships — I’ve approached them all with a persistent subconscious restraint, a small holding back, the invisible “not really.”

But it’s not small at all, this reservation.  It’s like trying to get airborne while stubbornly hanging onto a branch.  There can be some pretty interesting flapping around, but not a whole lot of altitude.

Where this pattern comes from is anybody’s guess, but I have my suspicions. On some level, it’s tough to fly while lifting the weight of all of these stories (like a parachute full of bricks- it’s not much protection in the end.) The “not good enough” (this classic piece of Americana); the “who do you think you are?” (where we shoulder the weight of someone else’s fear); the dread of being embarrassed or judged that underlies so much of the fear of failure.

And of course, over time, this fabric of stories becomes it’s own story with it’s own weight carefully woven through the gravity of repetition. So when do we get to put it down? And what triggers that decision? Of course, this has to be more of a process than an event, but still, when?

I carry a picture in my mind of an old man, his hair gone gray and long, having finally arrived at that place of nothing left to prove and nothing left to fear.  He’s watching his grandchildren play. He closes his eyes and savors the laughter.  His old face is warm.

So there it is — before it’s truly too late, I aspire to shrug off the heavy brocade, this fabric of stories and at least once to feel the wind directly on my skin.

I aspire to embrace my own inner fool, to go “all in” as often as I can stand it.

I want to kick the door shut behind me and head into the hills, to trust that a trail will form itself, even if it’s not at all where I thought I was going, to reach for the edge of the cliff and simply keep climbing, to relax my grip and trust that the wind will carry me

or not…

© J.A. Fink 2013

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