They are huge. They are colorful. They are scary. They are the butterflies that hit my stomach when darkness begins to fall. My mouth goes dry, the mind quietens into an almost meditative contemplation of fear, and the hands and legs prepare themselves to rebel. It’s funny really – I never thought something as mundane as learning a new skill will change my entire mental makeup so much. I have gained a whole new respect for the words, fear and failure. And of course, I’m thinking hard about desires. Desire to succeed, desire to compete, desire to accomplish what seems like cake walk to others. My mind insists on conjuring up childhood experiences that I can’t quiet recall. I’m not sure if I can trust what it’s trying to give me as an excuse for that adrenalin rush, the bad sort of it.
How hard can it be? I know am smart, am quick and am pretty determined – but when am in the water, I become all that I am not! It’s terribly scary – to think a side of me exists that’s ready to accept fear and the imminent failure that will go with it if I don’t overcome the former. I stand in the water watching people swim by like pretty fishes in their colorful suits, splashing water in my face in direct mockery of my fear. Their every hand movement taunts me – see, no one is holding me and yet am able to do this… what of you? Maybe you should attach an artificial set of hands to your own so that you can pretend am holding you, someone says. I laughingly agree on the outside and cringe inside. No, this can’t be me. Or is it?
I vaguely remember reading that the first step to overcome fear is to accept it. Then take its hands and ask it to accompany you – ask the fear to give you company, make it your friend. Talk to it and tell it to give you a free moment. Don’t ever try to deny it.
So okay, I’ve done that. I’ve accepted it, embraced it, and am taking it along every day with me to my classes. But it’s yet to give me a moment free. The mind is so silly – it fancies having been born as a cat or some other water-hating creature in the previous birth. Leftover Karma, it offers. I am not able to dismiss it as silly though. I frantically grab it as I do my instructor's hands inside the water, hoping that I will be able to learn swimming without ever having to float alone inside the water. What did I tell you? Silly it is!
Ha, I do hope I don’t embrace what might follow the fear. I don’t think I want to make friends with failure. The mind is actually clever too – it immediately retorts, why have the desire? Maybe it is just not meant to be!
Oh, I tell you…they are quiet a killer team. Fear, failure and the face of desire.