Are you waiting for “The Right Moment” or “When They Grow Up” or “When The Better Job Comes Along” or “After The Mortgage is Paid Off’ or “After You Retire”?
Do you remember as a kid doing some really daft and crazy things?
It was a time when we acted instinctively, we had lots of energy. It was non stop adventure and we really lived in the moment.
I remember a time when I was probably 9 or 10 when I and a group of local and fearless friends (all boys and yes, I was quite a “tomboy”) used to love building rafts out of old planks of timber we’d find in our overgrown back gardens We’d drag them to a local wetland swamp and tie these rickety planks together with old ropes and makeshift knots.
If we had the materials we’d even build a mast and then we’d then float that makeshift raft on this local swamp amongst the reeds and bull rushes. And by the end of the afternoon, the raft would often be water logged and would gradually sink and disappear … never to be seen again.
We’d do this in winter on a Saturday morning and after we’d spent the day “exploring” the birds nests amongst the bull rushes, checking out the frogs and waterways, we’d build a smoky and wet bonfire to cook burnt sausages on sticks, which we piled with tomato sauce. They tasted so delicious. And we thought that we were so clever.
Then this one day, it was raining. Misty and continual rain. Not enough to stop us, just miserable to make it uncomfortable. Our usual part of the swamp had disappeared under a previous deluge of rain and the shallow water now extended over a larger scrubby bush land. Our little beach area had completely disappeared.
We moved our raft making to the opposite side of the swamp. This was unknown territory. It had more reeds, looked deeper and particularly uninviting. And we had had to leave behind one of our usual building crew, the “sensible” 12 year old. From memory, I think he had measles. The raft we built that afternoon looked more than a little odd. It was “gappy” and the knots didn’t look particularly strong. However, it had been my idea that day to build a raft and I so I felt that I had to continue on with the “adventure.”
I looked over the murky swamp and started to have doubts. Big doubts. It looked dark and really horrible. The reeds were thicker than in the other parts and I imagined it to be deeper. I began to think about snakes. Mum was an expert at killing snakes with a shovel. I’d watched her kill lots of viciously poisonous ones, even pulling one out of the cot where my then baby brother was sleeping. Me? I had no idea. I just knew that they were dangerous. And I also knew that this area was known for Tiger Snakes.
I took a big breath and we all piled onto the raft. It started to sink ever so slightly. Water lapped through the boards and over the sides. It felt downright dangerous and scary.
I turned around and looked at my younger brother. He was looking so excited to be going on an adventure.
I’ll never forget it. The water underneath us was cold and black and smelled of rotting vegetation.
I bit my bottom lip and pushed out.
And we had the best of fun!
But something happens when we get older.
We stop taking risks.
We become fearful.
Fear of embarrassment.
Fear of failure.
Fear of what others think.
Fear of we don’t have the right skills.
We’re not young enough.
We look too old.
We’re too fat, too skinny, not pretty enough, too…..
And on it goes.
All these fears stop us from fulfilling our full potential.
So what can we do about it?
Well I’m still working with my fears and I’m still working lots of things out. And we find more and more excuses to put in the way.
But I do know that when I need to do something, yet I keep putting it off, it’s fear that is stopping me.
I know the best way to stop that fear dead in it’s tracks, is to take action.
Action beats fear every time.
Taking the right action becomes a habit.
It becomes a part of who you are.
I also know fear sits right there in your reptilian brain teasing you. It’s a make believe emotion. It plays tough, acts tough and runs away when you confront it.
And yes I know that we can’t go back to when we were fearless, nor should we want to, it could be downright dangerous sometimes, however…
We can live each day without fear…
And it all begins with taking the first step in the right direction.
Don’t overthink it.
You’ll figure it out as you go.
You always do!