“But I love the idea – whether it’s in my work or where I live – exploring new frontiers, and I like putting myself in strange places and trying to survive and figure things out and gather up an infrastructure. I like knowing that I could figure out a way to live anywhere.” ~Madonna Ciccone
Did you know that more people than not – natives and visitors both – survive each day in Guatemala? Es verdad. Yet some of what I hear or read would have me believe that no good can come of being there. Of course there are activities with a greater inherent risk of personal harm, like drug-running, blind-folded mountain climbing, and jaguar wrestling. The likelihood of my participation in any of these sports is relatively low (although I do want to keep my options open in case I’m running low on cash).
I lived a long time in fear. I was afraid to graduate from college. I was afraid to have kids. I was afraid to drive in New York City. I was afraid of public speaking. I was afraid to start a blog. I was afraid of pretty much anything new. My white-knuckle solution was to do it anyway. For years this was standard operating procedure. Exhausting. Plus, when you’re always looking for dangers and problems, you see dangers and problems. Exhausting, and not fun.
What happens in real life? If you’ve decided to do something, you figure out the steps to move toward your destination. If you’re committed, you move forward whether you’re afraid or not. And what’s the usual outcome? You complete each step. You get where you’re going. Or not. Sometimes interesting paths present themselves, or circumstances suggest a change in plans. Stuff happens, you deal.
The choice comes down to how you want to live. It’s not about choosing (perceived) risky activities for bragging rights. You choose what makes you happy. You figure out a functional way to make that happen. Just do it. Having the fear is a choice.
Not that I’m not feeling some trepidation about this trip. I’m afraid that my bag will be too heavy and I’ll….get tired. I’m afraid that my bag is too light, that I’ve forgotten something and I’ll….be inconvenienced. I’m afraid of, um, gastrointestinal situations and I’ll….have to ingest large quantities of Pepto-Bismol. I’m afraid of boredom and I’ll….have to be with myself.
I’m afraid that I’ll get lost. Actually, I’m sure I’ll get lost. And then I’ll get unlost, having had an interesting experience along the way. Or not. I’m afraid I won’t learn Spanish as well as I imagine. Oh dear.
Part of the goal of this journey is to practice being in the moment. And fear can’t live there. Fear is about the future, a story we make up. If we breathe enough life into this story, we can bring it alive. Brilliant strategy, eh? How about, just this once, I stay present? Make decisions based on what is, not founded on the disaster movie script running through my head.
I don’t know. Sounds crazy, but it could end up being an amusing habit.