My friend Lindsay gave me the honour of guest blogging on her site a few times in 2014 and I thought I'd share some of the love here.
Deep inside me lives an annoying fiend named Scaredy Cat. If I could write my own DNA, I’d leave this bit out, but there you have it.
I’m not the kind of scaredy-cat that jumps at her own shadow or can’t leave the house. I rarely worry about anything and stress is a word of the past.
I can make decisions; I love adventures; I will do what’s needed to feed the children.
But I think perhaps my idea of adventure is different than so many others’.
It may have had something to do with My Childhood…grab some wine or a blanket or something comforting and, yes, let’s go There.
To be honest, my parents and childhood friends-lovely people-were all pretty tame in my formative years.
We didn’t grow up going on family camping trips or playing any sports together. I played soccer for one year, after which my mum informed me that I wasn’t aggressive enough to advance to the next league and wouldn’t let me play again. So that was that. We moved after I’d played one year of high school basketball and lived too far away to commute in for the games. I could go on, but I hope you see my bigger point: I never developed the grittiness of competitive sports. Or nature adventures. Or…so many other things that we’ll talk about at a later date.
I spent my first two decades with a small, unvaried friend group. I didn’t meet a lot of people who were different than me or tried new things in general.
So here we have the age-old question of Nature vs. Nurture. Who can say what has shaped the pages of my life?
“Just JUMP,” she called from below, splashing about as if she could be happy in that tiny space of the ocean’s inlet forever.
She was a spunky daredevil, dauntless to the core. I loved living and traveling with her because, like me, she was ever excited about the myriad of small things that make daily make life so beautiful.
And now she wanted me to jump.
She was 800 feet below me; maybe 8000. The more I squinted at her through teary-eyes, the further away she felt.
I should tell you now that this was only a few years ago, not when I was 12 or something when it would seem more rational.
I was the first one out to the jumping rock, fired up at the thought of overcoming my fears and diving straight into the glistening waters beneath me.
But I was too ambitious, too fast. I know now I should have jumped in straight away while the adrenaline was still pumping furiously through my veins. I shouldn’t have waited for the others to catch up.
Because during that wait, few minutes that it was, I grew cold, uninspired, scared. Too much thinking-not enough doing.
One after another, I watched my friends jumped into the cool waters. They were all brave.
Her happy shouts of “jump” continued under our other friend, L, hushed her with some blunt words.
I felt stupid, uncool, sluggish.
Why oh why couldn’t I just jump?
I have actually spent a lot of time sorting through my head and trying to figure out what was “wrong” with me. It’s simply this, my above conclusion-I love adventures in different ways.
I love the thrill of a well-written novel. I love the rush of a business challenge. I love travel and the excitement of discovery. I love words and poems, tales of heroes and history.
I once explained it to my friend Anne, during a long walk along the ocean in Kona. I love the challenge of anything intellectual; things of the mind scare me not. But many things in the realm of the physical feel excessively daunting to me.
…and then we have my husband. Jonathan’s family is similar to mine in the adventure department, but he had a host of friends with whom to have exploits.
Jonathan loves the thrill of adrenaline. I do not.
He loves the rush of speed. I like it too!…at certain times, in certain ways.
He loves heights and bloody movies. I cringe to my depths at both.
I’m sure you can imagine that at times, this is an interesting mix in our marriage.
For example, let’s talk about this “it’s just like riding a bike business” for a minute. First of all, I didn’t learn to ride a bike until I was 10 or so. I’m not sure why it took me so long. Perhaps I was uninterested? Perhaps my parents were uninterested in teaching me?
However it broke down, by the time I learned, I developed a somewhat scary habit of biking into objects. Rather large objects. Like trees or bushes. Oh right-that’s the other thing. I grew up out in the country and my only experience with “city riding” is in our dear Brantford, population 100K. Even then I defy all bike laws and ride on the sidewalks with the 10-year-olds. Whatever. I keep my head down low. I don’t think I’ve ridden a bike more than a few dozen or so times in my entire life.
So you can throw about this “just like riding a bike” all you want, but I’m here as a personal testimony that it’s a lot more complex than it seems. And that’s what I have to say about that.
So there we were, whirling willy nilly through the rainy streets of Amsterdam on bikes.
“You have to go faster,” he called over his left shoulder. “You’re strong. You can do it.”
And in my head, as I pumped about, I told myself I would go the speed that was comfortable for me and that was that. I glared at his back.
And everywhere I looked, I saw large objects.Tall buildings, pedestrians, poles, vehicles passing me helter-skelter. They were calling to me, just asking me to run into them.
“This was your idea!” he reminds me. Just because I loved the idea and was trying not to hate the reality, didn’t mean it wasn’t something I wanted to do.
Beyond the romance of the idea, at my centre, it was something I knew I needed to do. …….
Because sometimes we write our own stories. And I decided a long time ago that I was going to make myself do the things in life that scare me.
Nature or nurture-I imagine it is some complex pairing of each.
But I refuse to let fear have the last word in my life, even if it takes me longer to garner up the courage than some.
I drove to downtown Toronto, in the rain, by myself just a couple of weeks ago. I surprised Jonathan with a skydiving extravaganza just last year for his 30th birthday and jumped too. I play ultimate frisbee in the summers with Jonathan, not only because I love it, but because I am terrible at it and terribly insecure about it. But which came first-the terrible or the terribly insecure? It’s a vicious cycle. And so I play. I went skiing with some of my friends earlier this year. I was wobbly and pretty bad, but I had FUN pushing myself and gaining confidence. Slowly but oh-so-surely.
These small victories may all sounds pitiful to you, but I am comfortable with my own stride.
Bikes and heights and driving in the rainy dark through unknown streets. We all have our insecurities, fears or bogeymen. I just happen to be telling you mine in one setting.
Between you and me and your mom-I will always regret that jump I didn’t make on that tiny island in Greece.
So one day I’ll make it back to that rock in the sea and I’ll leap, leap, leap into liberty.
And until then, one day at a time, I’ll build my own fort of freedom, one scary challenge after another, one Layne-paced brick at a time.