Recently a friend of mine told me he thought I was courageous. I about fell over in my chair, as courageous is not an adjective with which I use to describe myself. In fact, if truth be told, I am a flat out ninny. I live with so much daily fear and neurosis, it is both comical and sad. It’s also testimony to how weak my faith really is, for faith is the opposite of fear and/or the absence of it.
The undercurrent of anxiety in my life surfaces in the way I check the stove a THOUSAND times before I leave the house for fear I haven’t turned it off and will thus burn it down with my beloved cats trapped inside. This little preoccupation became evident to a friend I was traveling with recently, which was a bit embarrassing for me. It didn’t help when she told me that her father had actually left the stove on once and burned down half the kitchen. Great…
Yet oddly enough, the other day wasn’t the first time I’ve been told I’m brave. When I was eighteen and went to live in Indonesia for a year as an exchange student, people constantly told me I was brave. What they didn’t realize was that 1) I didn’t know any better and 2) I was utterly terrified. I guess it’s that old adage, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” Or, as another friend of mine used to say, “Fear is just energy — or happiness without the breath.”
Anyway, I am a full fledged neurotic which is why surfing is great for me. All kinds of things can go wrong when you surf. The board can bang you on the head or break your nose and the fins can cut you. In just the year I’ve been learning, I banged my toe on a rock (although that was while walking on the beach while carrying the board) to the point of sprain, stepped down way too hard on my ankle when riding a wave into the shallow and have taken a number of beatings by water. In fact, I sometimes drive home wondering if you can get a black eye from being hit by a wave. And all of this is good because in life we get bruised and scraped and that is part of living. I need that reminder. Because I’d rather be living than dying.
Yes, we get bruised and scraped but we must get back on that horse. Back on that board. Out into the sunshine. This thing called life.