I posted a version of this the other day, then took it down. Usually, I won’t take something down even if I’m not satisfied with it, but this time… I felt that I wasn’t conveying what I wanted to, it wasn’t just grammar or changing a sentence. So, read on. It’s mostly the same, with a few changes (especially at the end). That said, I’m still not sure it’s done, but I’m going to post it anyway. If I make any changes, I will add notes in the comments section.
When I was 17 my dad and I went on a vacation to Lake Tahoe. It was beautiful, but overwhelming. The combination of thin air and grandiose vistas didn’t sit well with my psyche. I couldn’t place the feeling, but it was uncomfortable. When my dad suggested we check out the scenery, I opted to stay in and read. That didn’t go over well with my pop. He thought I was being a stubborn, cranky teenager and got kinda pissed off. Since I often was a stubborn, cranky teenager, it wasn’t a far stretch of the imagination. However, this time he wasn’t correct. He got mad at me, and I tried to explain that it wasn’t that I didn’t /want/ to go out, it was that I /couldn’t/.
We cooled down and talked. Inside. By then it was getting towards sunset. I tried to explain to my dad what I was feeling – this big, ambiguous, scary, disoriented feeling that overwhelmed me every time I looked at the mountains. They didn’t look real. Everything looked kind of flat and like a beautiful painting. My brain couldn’t handle that.
My pop, having had experienced similar feelings, understood. I was suffering from ‘existential heebie jeebies.’ The cure, he said, was to go into that scary place, confront my fears, and dissipate the hold they had on me.
He finally talked me into joining him down at a dock by the lake. It wasn’t a far walk and there were two chairs conveniently placed for us. We sat there, leaned back looking up at the stars and marveled at the clarity of the Milky way. He turned to me and told me to tell him everything I was feeling. I didn’t want to. I felt that by saying the feelings out loud, it would make them more real and bigger and scarier. He told me that by speaking the fears, they would turn into clouds and float away. I gave it a shot.
After a while, I realized that we were having a conversation and I didn’t feel scared anymore.
It had worked!
The conversation turned towards the idea of ambition and success. He talked about how important it is to do each endeavor with all you’ve got. He spoke of an eagle lifting off from a cliff. The bird spreads its wings and commits to soaring away. If the eagle hesitates, or only raises its wings part-way, the bird will plummet to death. Or at least a lot of broken bones and bruises, and certainly feel rather silly.
When you set out to do something, he said, you have to fully spread your wings and take flight with passion and courage.
I think that on the surface, and perhaps even a little further, when we start something we think we are giving it our all. We feel that we have tried our hardest and are doing everything in our power to make it work. The problem is that too often we are hiding things from ourselves. We have fears and concerns and bad habits. So really, we only try as far as we are comfortable.
The trick is to break out of your comfort zone and take risks. If you jump out of fear or a bad habit, you aren’t guaranteed to fall, but its far more likely that the outcome won’t be very good. It’s scary to jump off that cliff, but you have to trust yourself (your strength, your abilities, your knowledge).