Fearless

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Dear baby,

the holidays have been very busy. What with being born and eating and sleeping and pooping, learning about diapers and diaper rash, putting up the Christmas tree, decorating it, taking it down, baking cookies, and caring for your new parents, from your first breath to your latest nap, it’s been an eventful month and a half.

This world spins.

That’s the thing about the planet earth, which is where we are right now. It turns and turns and wobbles on its axis, especially when you’re dizzy and wish it would stop. Just for a moment. So you can catch your breath. But it won’t. As far as I can tell, she doesn’t know how to. Or maybe the motion is comforting, like a baby rocking herself to sleep in her crib.

I know this all feels pretty solid, the arms that cradle you and that fancy car seat stroller situation you’ve set up for yourself, but the planet’s always on the move. It twirls in space and dances with the moon with the tension two children pulling against each others arms. They spin. And pull. And spin and pull and spin.

And as they romp around the space between their bodies, they also follow a bumpy path around the sun.

This is probably what makes things a little wobbly at home. 

Which explains a lot.

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You’ll definitely feel it when you start walking.

I’ve been working on learning how to do a backflip. I walked into the backflip store last week and asked the nice man at the desk to teach me.

“Why do you want to do a backflip,” he asked.

“I don’t know,” is what I told him.

I think a backflip is a worthy goal. But, truthfully, kid, I’m not quite sure why I do anything.

“I’m just trying to live my life,” I said.

But a backflip? Why not a front-flip. Or a round-off. Or a simple cart-wheel?

“I think I’m stuck in a mid-life crisis.”

A mid-life crisis is what happens to you when you’re grown-up and, like a rubber-ball, you bounce off that cement wall of As-Far-As-You-Think-You-Can-Go and start aging backwards.

Or – it’s probably more like when you find yourself in the deep end of the pool and realize that you’ve forgotten how to do the breast stroke, but you’re not ready to leave the water so you have to float on your back instead. Which causes you to see a whole other side of things that you never considered. Like the sky.

Or – maybe it’s like when your feet are firmly planted on the ground, but you feel the wobble of the earth’s axis. And while you’ve always considered the planet to be a stoic and untouchable place, you realize that this behemoth that we ride upon is sometimes unsure of herself. But she keeps going. And those of us who rely on her strength and good will keep going with her.

Anyhow, so far as I can tell, the mid-life crisis isn’t as bad as they tell you it is in the movies. It’s actually fun. Sort of.

The thing about learning to do a backflip is that I’ll need to learn how to do a handstand. too. And the thing about handstands is, I don’t like being upside down. It scares me. I was thinking about this today as I was hanging upside down from two pieces of knotted fabric. I was feeling a little fearful, even though the floor was in plain sight. And it made me wonder – perhaps once you can talk you will advise – why I am so persistent in pursuing activities that scare me so much that they make me want to vomit.

I must remind myself to tell your parents to swing you by your feet early and often so that you do not develop an aversion to being upside down.

I overheard a conversation a few years ago between a wise man and his fearful associate.

He was talking about spirituality. She was worried about losing her identity, as if it could fall out of her pocket onto the jungle floor like a set of keys never to be found again.

Your identity is who you think you are. You’ll learn about this in a few years, around the same time the sandbox loses its allure. Some people spend a lifetime, or part of one, trying to shake their identity, their ego. Others spend a lifetime holding onto it for dear life. She was in the latter category. The thought of life without her ego made her so scared that she probably wanted to vomit.

This is what he said: fear is not an enemy. Fear keeps us safe. It keeps us from placing our hand on a hot burner and putting ourselves at risk. Fear is best considered an unpredictable playmate. One to dance with. To flirt with. To push against. Softly. Fear is a teacher. A good one.

You mustn’t take fear too seriously.

Especially when you are learning how to do a backflip.

Which is what I attempt to remind myself as I hang upside down from ceilings and try to hop my feet over my head as I lunge backwards on a bouncy mat. IMG_7256

I like to propose thematic ideas for the years. 2013 was the year of the wing. I traveled as often as I was able – I flew and drove and bussed and kayaked far and wide.

I had hoped this year would be the year of learning. I have a plan to learn a Spanish verb a day, to figure out the backflip and learn a song on the guitar and two on my orange ukulele.

But as it’s shaping up, I think this is the year of shifting perspective. The year of becoming friends with fear. The year of upside down.

Little girl, you know how I told you that the earth and the moon spin around themselves and each other? The moon always keeps one side hidden from us. The earth offers herself up, all sides, for the sun and the moon to see. This takes courage, I think. To be that open, that vulnerable. All the time.

Courage is when you take a step even though you think you might fall, when you tell someone a secret from your heart, when you start a project you don’t understand, and when you agree to love without expectation. Courage teaches us who we really are.

And courage doesn’t exist without fear.

So, happy upside down new year, baby girl. I think it’s going to be a good one.

love,

your bad aunt and her mean little dog.

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1 thought on “Fearless

  1. I love that statement: You mustn’t take fear too seriously.

    May you back flip your way happily through 2014. It’s gonna be a great one!

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