I spent some time on the beach the other day, just listening to the water and watching it crash over the rocks, thinking and meditating. The issue on my mind was heavy: my never-ending cycles of bad habits. I wanted to figure out why I seem to make the same mistakes over and over again. I wanted to understand why I screw up so often, why I get so tongue-tied and stupid, why I can't figure out what I want, why I put myself in the same dead-end situation time and time again. For someone who knows so much about learning, why does it seem that I'm not learning from my experiences?
I decided that I am kind of like that rock. You know, the one that stands a couple of feet out into the water where the waves crash? It makes for a beautiful picture, and, I think, an appropriate metaphor. I am a firmly, deeply, rooted rock. I know that I am strong! Fierce storms and hurricanes and tidal waves and tsunamis have all hit this beach, but my roots go deep and I always come out standing tall.
The thing is, even though I know this truth, there is still a little part of me, deep down, that gets scared and thinks, with each approaching wave, Will this be the one to take me down?
Observing from the outside, it seems like an absurd phenomenon. I mean, I've survived 20-foot tidal waves! The Category 5 hurricane beat me and bruised me but in the end I remained. No crash, however big, or high, or strong, or fast, has been able to take me out. Why would I fear this tiny crest? But to that small part inside, it is a legitimate threat, and it's scary.
The challenge, then, is to look from the outside. If I only focus on the inside, all I will see is the fear. But, if I can step outside myself and recognize the bigger picture, perhaps then I will have the strength to act in spite of it. For that is true courage. Not the absence of fear, but the ability to recognize it and still move forward.
As the sun set, I came to the conclusion that I do not want to let fear control me. It will take all the life and joy out of me if I do. Sure, sometimes life hurts. But if I held back every time something in my life scared me, or held the possibility of hurt, I wouldn't have much of a life at all. And that is not what I want. I want to feel the rush of confidence when I conquer something new. I want to make memories. I want to move mountains. I want to try everything once. Because if I listened to my own advice, I would realize that I'll never know what could be if I never try, and if I never try, I'll always wonder. I don't want to have to sit at the end of my life and wonder what it might have been like. I want to know. And even if it does hurt, I know that I will come out standing, as always, grateful for the experience.