Do at least one thing every day that scares you.
When I showed this quote to Tracy* he said, “Can we change it from at least to only?”
For me it’s hard to limit the scary things in a day to one, and this isn’t all Germany’s fault. I’m easily scared. For instance, Sunday I decided to move Tracy’s car so it won’t be in the same spot on the street for two-and-a-half weeks while he’s in Vietnam.
I had never driven the Mini before. Reverse is next to first gear rather than opposite 5th as I’ve always found it before. Parking spots here usually have about six inches of clearance on either side. Plus, backing up I was blind since 9o% of cars are longer than Minis. Yet, somehow I managed to move the car from one parking space to another without wrecking.
I have a low-grade but insistent fear of my boss. Yesterday when I finished teaching she said, “Why didn’t you give your student any breaks?” I told her I had. “Well open the door, let him out of the room. See, he’s using the bathroom now–you should have let him use it sooner. I almost burst into the room and asked if everything was all right in there.”
Another time I was doing some online modules in order to qualify to teach for this particular language school. She came into the room where I was working and said, “Faster! The speed affects your score!” And when I was filling out some paperwork to make the hire official, she said, “Legible! Your handwriting must be legible or they will send it back. That could be a five or a three–which is it?”
Sometimes the scariest things are new ones–finding your way, negotiating with people you don’t know or understand. Other times the scariest thing is to end something comfortable, glorious, or even bad-but-familiar–to kill it, walk away, or let it die.
And what about dropping in on the primordial? Meditation means ultimate surrender to a mysterious power that pulses through you. It can be terrifying.
Meditation led me to an MFA. About ten years ago I was having my third-of-life-crisis and became so lost that I began to start each morning in the half-lotus, focusing on my breath. This was the best way I could think of to contact my most true self, the one I needed to help me decide what to do with my life. Now I’m having what could be a mid-life crisis and since I’m too scared to drive in Germany, I won’t be buying a sports car. Instead, I’m meditating.
In his beautiful book, Let Your Life Speak, Quaker educator and activist, Parker Palmer, writes about the harshness of winter in Madison Wisconsin:
If you live here long, you learn that a daily walk into the winter world will fortify the spirit by taking you boldly to the very heart of the season you fear.
Deep inside our own winters hibernate. They may be fierce, they may be wild.
* The love of my life