“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
I have had this quote posted on the front of my refrigerator for a few months now. I was feeling a little crafty at work one night and with the front office laminator, a piece of Dollarama magnet tape and some left handed scissors, Ta-daaaaa…my masterpiece was complete. Now I didn’t actually say “Ta-daaaa” but I have to admit, I was pretty damn proud of my little black laminated square thus making it totally “ta-daaa” worthy.
Come to think of it, I don’t know that I’ve ever actually “ta-daaa’d” much of anything since I was about seven. Maybe it’s just one of those words you can only use after you do a perfect handstand when you’re really, really drunk or after you pull a white rabbit out of a hat or while dramatically sliding a white sheet off of a (cue-in-overly-excited-game-show-host-voice-here) branddd newww carrrrrr…!!!!!
Who knows..maybe that’s what’s lacking in my life. Maybe the decline of the “ta-daaa” has been society’s downfall and people just need to throw it out there a little more often. Celebrate the small victories in a world too often so quick to point out the dread and misery of the day. Like after you manage to peel an orange in one peel or pop a cork out of a bottle of wine without flinching; a skill I myself have not yet mastered. I’ve decided at this very moment I’m bringing it back with a vengeance. Next time my boss asks me to make photocopies he’s getting himself a dazzling and enthusiastic “TA-DAAAAA!!” as I place the crisp papers dramatically in his outstretched palm to both illustrate as well as celebrate my cat-like dexterity and mad skills with a photocopier.
Maybe I’ll even throw in a fucking back flip and somersault for good measure.
Anyway, back to my little black square.
I glance at this quote almost every single day. Little good it has done me so far yet still it remains, the little black square with such a small seemingly harmless question that in truth could bring me to my knees if I allowed myself to seriously consider it. Fear has somehow become a permanent theme inside of my head for much of my adult life. Has somehow etched itself into my every thought, every breath, every decision. It has become so much a part of me that I now wear it like an invisible crown. I wander through life pretending its not there yet deep down I am fully aware of the heaviness of it..the crushing weight of it…the immense pressure pushing down on my shoulders….how as a result I walk with my head hung just a little bit lower than the day before…my eyes just a little bit older.
I live in this constant state of….bracing. Bracing for the phone to ring in the middle of the night; horror awaiting on the other line. Bracing for the email..the letter…the text…the xray…the lump…the ultrasound…the sharp pain in my chest… the world... to bring me to my knees. To knock the wind from my lungs. To crumble the earth at my feet. It is a terrible thing to live in fear. To tread in it just enough to stay afloat while you watch the world passing you by as your head bobs up and down in the water; frantic hands clawing at the air for something..for anything..to keep you from being sucked down into the doom of the horror on the other end of the telephone. The answer to the little black square is supposed to be wrought with daring feats and mountain tops. Dizzying heights; speeds so fast it would make your head spin. Claws as sharp as razor blades. Death staring you blatantly in the face in all its ferocity.
“She scribbles hers in red felt marker and crumples the paper up in a ball of shame. If you look closely you can still make out the first few lines.”
Sing a song out loud.
Read a poem I’ve written in a room full of people.
Touch an elephant.
Make a doctor’s appointment and not be afraid to go.
There are times in my life when I have these moments of complete clarity. Fragments in time when suddenly everything makes sense and I am filled with this humility..this incomprehensible sense of love…a sudden understanding of the beauty in my life that is almost unbearable.
People hurt you. Father’s die. Pain is often inescapable. But babies fall asleep in your arms. And you sometimes laugh so hard it hurts but it still feels so good. And when you ride your bike down a steep hill your hair flies out behind you in the wind and you feel like a kid again; like you can do anything. And people hope and believe and want and need just like you do. And sometimes when you dare pick up the phone, awaiting on the other line is love. It is in those moments when I shed my crown. Pull my tired body from out of the water. Remove my armour, lay down my weapons and live. And all at once I’m not so afraid of the dark any more.
So I’ve decided to keep my little black square. Productive or not, it shall remain on my fridge; my Telus bill hanging on to it for dear life. Maybe I’ll get hit with another Suzie-homemaker-crafty-mc-crafterson wave and make a totally new fridge magnet or knit a swanky new scarf or bake something with rainbow sprinkles on the top. I made cupcakes about a year ago and they were horrific but I decorated them up like a mo fo with the rainbowiest of spinkles and if I dare say so myself..They. Looked. Awesome.