I’ve asked myself in those quiet moments, WHO am I now? who AM I now? Who am I NOW? Each time I ask the question, stress a different word, it leads me back to more questions. A sister with one less brother? A daughter whose parents feel as if they’ve driven into a concrete wall? A woman who wants to shed her skin like a molting lobster?
For the past 3 ½ months since my brother walked out of this world and into the next without saying goodbye, without any warning at all, my attention drifts and floats when I’m alone. I’ve not been able to read anything longer than a Haiku poem. But over the past two weeks, I was ready to be pulled into another world, if only for a couple of hours at night when QUIET comes a-knockin’.
I went into my office, sighed my sighs as I stared at books yet to be read. I picked up WILD, a memoir by Cheryl Strayed that sat on my bookshelf for two years, because I didn’t want to read about a woman on search for herself after a tragedy.
Cheryl’s mother died at 45 when Cheryl was 22, leaving a hole in her heart the size of the Grand Canyon. Four years later, she hiked 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail ALONE to find herself and heal a broken heart. (I highly recommend this book http://www.amazon.com/Wild-Found-Pacific-Crest-Vintage/dp/0307476073 and all other books by this author)
Under the sun, as I read her journey through hell, I imagined myself lacing up boots, stuffing dried nuts, a water filter, an army knife, and a cracked heart inside a backpack. I imagined hiking that trail, finding the new courageous, healed me.
Plain truth: NEVER in three lifetimes would I have that kind of courage to hike three months by myself.
But, I did ask myself, “What FEARS are holding me back now from going after those dreams I’ve dreamed about under a star-speckled sky? What fears are living inside the new me who was kicked in the heart with a steel-toed boot? The me who understands that now is all we truly have–at least in this flesh and blood form?
In this knowing, I wait for a new, bolder kind of courage to rise up through the fears and crack in my heart, because what, truly, do I have to lose? Yet, I continue to dream about chances and risks I want to take. I journal about them. I talk about them. I prepare and re-prepare to molt and climb out of my old self.
Though I’ve taken risks, they’ve been calculated with very few unknowns—other than jumping on a plane to Asia three days after my brother died. Even then, I knew all I needed to. Rocky was dead and would not be waiting for me when I arrived.
The kind of risk I’m talking about feels equivalent to driving a hundred miles an hour into a thick wall of fog, or soaring off a cliff without a safety net to break my fall, or hiking a thousand miles alone.
Because I’m a great “sign” seeker—not as in highway signs—more like celestial NEON signs, I search for them daily to get the green light from the universe that I will be okay if I take this one chance to discover the person I’m becoming without a net to catch me.
One Friday morning, I drove to Boston to be a guest on The Dr. Stem show, a local half-hour TV show, to talk to parents and kids about the importance of discovering their passions and to live accordingly; A topic I believe in wholeheartedly, until, that is, it comes to following the whisper of my own heart.
As I followed Cheryl, with her profound courage, down the barren and lonely Pacific Crest Trail, as she sidestepped rattle snakes, came face-to-face with a black bear, and was on the lookout for lions, it led me to a conversation with my brother, Rocky, the MOST courageous person I know. I prattled onto him the way I do every day, asked for another sign to give me the green light, to let me know I had a pinky-sized portion of his courage, of Cheryl’s, and that’s when a ROCK hit my windshield and cracked it in the left hand corner.
The striking Rock, struck something more deeply inside of me. I’ve walked my own thousand miles to get here. I’ve faced my own rattle snakes and black bears and lions. Some internal. Some external. It is the painful grit of life that calls to us to surrender, to stretch, to trust.
The darkest and most frightening times in my life when I felt as though I walked alone along my own Pacific Crest Trail, I had a partner. Me. I’ve never been alone. Not in the fog. Not in the sunshine. Not inside myself. And not since Rocky died. I can step off the cliff, barrel into a wall of fog, or molt my old skin, because I will be with myself wherever I land.
We only have today. This one moment. And it’s time to choose what you want to do with it.
Are you ready to jump off a cliff, drive into a wall of fog, and molt an old skin? Is there a dream you have just waiting to be realized? Is there a fear that holds you back? Share it here!