Wonder or Fear

Sometimes in the midst of the most mundane of things, I will become overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude. Today it happened while doing laundry. I am struck with a sense of blessing. Many don’t have what I have, do not enjoy even my own level of health and well-being. I can become caught up sometimes in the day-to-day of my own issues and forget that, in the grand scheme of things, I really don’t have it too bad.

I’ve been watching a Netflix program about the world’s most extraordinary homes, and they have been—each one—so beautifully original, unique… they each have their own personality, each visually stunning, but in most cases, it is the homes that manage to insert themselves into the majesty of nature around them, that are the most breath-taking. I am, like many people of the artistic “bent,” a very visually stimulated person. I’ve found myself so inspired by seeing these images of nature, of our world, the oceans, trees, greenery… no matter how good an artist you are, there are some things you just cannot compete with, you just can’t touch.

As a chronic “deep thinker” I think a lot about this life, this planet, why we are here. Hubby and I had a huge talk about it all just yesterday while on the way home from an outing. I’m as obsessed as any poet and philosopher has ever been, when it comes to thinking through the deepest of questions about our existence. I told him that, there are a few (very few) conclusions I’ve come to about this life. One is that we are undoubtedly here to learn lessons. I know this, because I have experienced that I will hit the same wall, round the same mountain, a hundred times, until I have learned what I am meant to learn. There are many instances of this in my life. Once I “get it” I am allowed to move on to new and different lessons.

I believe we are here to experience humanity, experience life in these “skins” on this planet, for some unknown purpose, (perhaps for our own betterment).

I’ve come to believe that there is very little that I know beyond all reasonable doubt, so when I come to any epiphany, it is so powerful to me. But for the first time ever, I’m okay with the “not knowing.” This recent mountain I’ve trekked around has taught me that it is okay NOT to have everything all figured out. I’d even go so far as to say that acting as though, or thinking that you DO, is hubris at its worst.

It’s such a human trait to try and figure everything out, and we’ve done it to such a degree that we have killed all of the wonder and majesty, all of the mystery, in the unknowing and unknowable. It’s a hard thing to just accept that there are some things I will never know for certain.

I think hope and faith dwell there, though, in the unknown, the uncertain. All sorts of wonderful things dwell there. Wonder. The wonder and awe of a small child seeing the ocean for the first time; trying to grasp the ungraspable. Humans try to “think” all the wonder away. I’ve found it is something I want, even need, to hold on to. I’m not a person who can live well or peacefully without hope, faith, wonder, magic, fantasy… the unknown. My soul actually craves it, and gets excited at its prospect. Maybe that’s why I enjoy fiction so much… the world of the unknown and unknowable.

Anyway, today, I feel extraordinarily grateful for life on this gorgeous blue marble. For whatever purpose I, or we, were created. I will live it gratefully and in awe and wonder, I will continue to walk the path, learn the lessons, trek around those mountains. And I will hold on to the unknown with awe instead of fear.

Childhood Memories/The Leap

I remember being a young child, maybe nine or ten,

and I was at some sleep away camp, and there was this lake for swimming.

We all ran down to this cliff-like area,

and the kids all started diving and jumping off this cliff,

that probably wasn’t nearly as terrifyingly far away,

as steep a fall, as I remember it being.

It seemed a thousand-foot drop to me,

in my memory it was miles long, I was terrified.

Many of the kids were older and bigger than me,

and certainly more well-seasoned in life,

and likely every single one a better swimmer than me.

Which isn’t saying much.

One by one they ran up to the edge, and kids in the lake

and on the cliff were all shouting as they each, in turn, jumped.

The line moved, pushing me along and before I knew it,

My turn was up. I was there, standing on the edge.

Everyone shouted, people behind me,

anxious and excited for their turn,

and those down in the water. All looking, all shouting.

All eyes on me.

I heard someone say, “Come on, everyone is doing it,

there’s nothing to be afraid of!

It’s fun! Just jump!”

So, I took a deep breath (which I had time to release,

then take again on the way down).

So, so far down.

I saw the water coming closer and closer to me

and made it a point to gasp in a lungful of breath

just before hitting the water.

The impact knocked the air out of me

and I just went down and down.

I wanted to gulp in air, but there was nothing but water,

endless water.

Finally, I stopped going down and began to rise.

I kicked and crawled and kicked some more,

trying my best to keep panic at bay.

“Everyone’s doing it! It’s fun!”

But it was all pure panic

and anxiety to me.

Finally, my head broke the water

and I shot up, gasping for air,

amazed that I was still alive. I coughed,

I choked, then began to make my way over to the ladder.

I dog-paddled to the ladder to climb back up, and this ladder was so

Intensely straight up and tall and it felt like

Trying to climb all the way to heaven.

But I remember for one fleeting second, when my head broke the water,

there was this voice.

It said, “You did it! You did something you were scared to do,

something you’ve never done before.”

It was so fleeting, and so buried over with sheer panic

and deep breaths. But it was there.

Later, and at many times throughout my life, I’ve thought,

“What the hell was I thinking?! That was too steep,

too far for someone like me

with my very limited swimming skill.”

If it hadn’t been for being swept up with the crowd,

If anyone, any one at all, had bothered to ask me

If I wanted to jump

I’d have said, “No way, I don’t swim very well.”

I would never have been interested in doing it.

But I’d been swept away in the moment.

I hadn’t been given the chance to really think it through.

I remember this moment so frequently.

I remember, I did it, and I didn’t die.

It was one of the scariest moments of my childhood, and

I did it. If I’d thought about it, at all,

I never, ever would’ve made the leap.

I over-think. Always. It’s in my DNA.

But oh, that feeling.

Coming up out of the water. Cheers and applause.

I jumped. I did it.

I didn’t die.

I try and remind myself, sometimes I need to stop over-thinking,

and just take that damned step.

Leap.