Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Fear of Falling...

I have never liked ice skating. Something about being tall and strapping on footwear that makes me taller still, and then trying to stay upright on a slippery surface, makes me cringe. You know what it is about skating that I hate? Falling. When you're this tall, it's a long way down. And once you're down, it's hard to get up again. So, when I skate, I lock up all the muscles up the back of my body to keep from falling. And it shows. I look like a penguin on ice, slowly trudging along, one deliberate movement after another.

This is a metaphor for my life. I am afraid to fall. Having fallen so many times and picked myself up again and again, you'd think I'd be used to it. But you never get used to it. And the larger I allow my dreams to become, the more I grow to reach them and the inevitable fear surfaces: If I fall, it's gonna be a long way down.

I find myself at a crossroads in my life (geez, how many of these are there gonna be?). I have laid before me many options for the next phase of my life. Each would take me in a very different direction. And I can feel my body entering lock down mode, going into its protective shell, bracing for the impact of change. As I reach for my dreams, the fear of falling is ever-present. I am skating on the ice of life. And I don't know what to do next.

tall penguin


Umlud said...

You can always learn how to fall without hurting yourself... (Of course, this advice is more applicable to ice skating, as it is easier to learn how to physically fall down and get back up again; gracefully even).

I hate to be the first to bring this up, but I will: Chumbawumba's "Tubthumping":

CyberLizard said...

Falling's the easy part, it's the impact on the ground at 120ft/sec ;-)

I went through what we in my family call the "year of hell". I was plagued by massive anxiety and depression. I went through something like 4-5 jobs, some I left after only one day, running away in panic.

At any rate, my point is that, after that, I decided to make the following my motto: If you're not in over your head, you're not learning anything.

I've used this almost as a mantra when starting a new job or new phase in my life. Luckily I have a fairly short attention span, so I don't dwell too much on the bad things that can happen, I just kinda dive in.

I still deal with anxiety every day, but now it's become a part of my life, rather than my whole life. It's still exhausting, though.

Anyway, my whole rambling point is that I sympathize and am extremely impressed with your capability to get back up and embrace such a radical change in your life.

jdbartlett said...

There's a crossroads at the end of every block except the last. The most important advice I can offer is don't mix metaphors, otherwise you end up with ice-paved crossroads.

matt said...

It has been said that we only learn from our mistakes; that our points of failure guide us to the truth. There will always be such a thing as that.

In skating, the best way to get hurt is to move as fast as possible touching the least amount of ground as possible. :)

Instead, sometimes it's better to keep those feet on the ground, experiencing all the tremors and imperfections in the ice.

Those imperfections will train us to predict when we might fall, and to guide us around them. Ultimately, a master is not someone who knows what to do, but what not to do!

Not that ice skating is for me, I found out it wasn't years ago.
Rollerskating makes sense though. :>

tall penguin said...

Hi umlud. Welcome. Chumbawumba makes me smile. :)

tall penguin said...

"If you're not in over your head, you're not learning anything."

Thank you for this cyberlizard. Your words echoed through my journaling late last night. My greatest fear, actually, if boredom. It's the fear of committing myself to a path that doesn't challenge me. And then having to start over again and again and again.

The anxiety you speak of has become the consistent hum in the background of my life. I don't let it bog me down, but realize that it's a valuable tool in letting me know what change needs to be made. I think anxiety is the brain's way of reminding us we're in new territory and to proceed with caution, but to still proceed. What's that saying...feel the fear and do it anyway.

tall penguin said...

"The most important advice I can offer is don't mix metaphors, otherwise you end up with ice-paved crossroads."

hahaha jd. Funny thing is, life IS a mixed metaphor.

tall penguin said...

"Ultimately, a master is not someone who knows what to do, but what not to do!"

Yes, it's a gradual unfolding into what is, by stripping away what isn't.