Thursday, April 24, 2008

Leaning into the fear

I have always wanted to learn how to sail. The excitement of the wind in your hair, the freedom on the water and the romance of the lifestyle the boating crowds I grew up with in my home town of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin spoke of a natural, carefree control.

Watching an accomplished sailor is like watching a talented dancer. Effortless, graceful, knowing the next moves far before they are necessary. I remember whipping across the lake as a child feeling like there was nothing that could hold me back. So natural, so fluid. I know now that sailing is a lot of hard work, reading the wind, instructing your crew, avoiding the other watercraft and years of practice. And it starts with many summers in the Sunflower turtled and paddle kicking it back to the dock because you just can't find the wind. I know it's not all grace and beauty - but when it does work it takes my breath away. I can hear the pinging of the sails on the mast even now if I close my eyes and go back there. As real as the birds outside my window as I type. It is my happy place. The place in my mind I go to when I need calm.

I took this picture last September when Keith and I were celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary on Mt. Desert Island and Bar Harbor. I think it's on Somes Sound and it transported me back to my teen years instantly - watching this sailboat track across the water. It was lightning fast and really playing with the strong wind. This is adventure sailing - not the timid kind I grew up with - our lake was so populated with water craft you could never gain the speed this sailor was flying with. There were times when the sail was nearly sideways. Either he really knew what he was doing or he was just plain lucky he didn't flip. It was a beautiful boat on a gorgeous day. We had to pull over the car just to watch.

I have been frozen lately. Frozen by fear. I shared at our small group on Friday that it's both fear of failing and fear of success that is icing my soul. What if the biggest, best idea I have doesn't have the wheels it needs to even write my thesis, let alone find a publisher. But again, what if it does and changes everything. Both fears loom so large in my mind's eye. I realized that they had crippled me into giving up.

I spoke with my friend Ed the other day about what I had voiced at group and he said these words to me "What if you leaned into the fear?"

The words stopped me short.

Changing perspectives lately has changed everything for me. What if the fear I was feeling wasn't my enemy, but my friend? What if it would provide the energy I need to actually finish what I have started? What if I used that energy the fear creates in me to power me toward doing the work that is in front of me instead of avoiding it. Could it really change everything?

What would leaning into the fear look like? Instantly I saw this sailboat slicing across the waves. The wind filling every inch of it's sails and taking that boat everywhere it needed to go. So today, I am leaning. Resting in the resistance that the fear in me creates. Maybe it is my friend. Maybe I've just been looking at it from the wrong perspective.


wilsonian said...

You might have heard this before, but a friend said this last night... 'God has total confidence that you can become what He created you to be'. I don't know about you, but I found that mind-blowing and incredibly freeing.

The Maker of the universe has complete confidence in you. :)

Heidi Renee said...

wow erin. i had never heard that before. love it. hardly believe it, but i'll try. thank you dear friend.