“It didn’t come, it doesn’t matter…”
A beautiful couple of days, spent at a cottage with friends. The cottage; a gorgeous little shack owned and passed down through the years to my friend and her brother. This place is the type of place that encourages little kids to search out frogs, adventurers to allow their imaginations to grow and for Fairies to kiss your cheeks all day long. The lake glimmers from the magic, both day and night, in sunshine and rain. The beauty fills your heart and lasts with you for days…
One particular day, a swim was called for. Floating down the water on noodles to a high rise of space. A place that will excite you and allow you to calm your heart as you float back to the dock. A cliff. First friend goes… “whhhheeeeeeeee!” Kersplouuush. Second friend goes… “Wheeeeeeeee!” Kersplouuuush. My turn. Fear. Terror. Unknown. Danger. Bweeep Bweeep! Internal alarm sounding. As I stood there, counting to 3 over and over and hesitating for 25 minutes, one would be able to imagine my purple ‘Fear’ character from “Inside Out” rolling on the ground in fetal position.
“1- 2- 3….” sigh, try again. “1- 2- 3….” no luck. Correction; no courage.
As my friends encouragingly allowed hypothermia to set into their bodies, while treading water the entire time, I established a relationship with the water below. They did what any friend would do… coax me in with encouraging words. A couple of jokes came out too. This made all of us more relaxed while the water below waited to have me be enveloped. My two friends did the jump and survived.. why wouldn’t I?
I must admit now. It was so much more than that. It actually had nothing to do with potentially breaking my neck on a hiding rock. Ok… it had a 10% potential factor. It was ‘could I do all of this with the same grace, hilarity, exuberance, and tenacity’ as my friends. No. I couldn’t. I found that out once I went. I did it with awkwardness, fear and absolute humility. “AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH! Kerrrrrsssssplat”. I jumped. I came up from under water still screaming. Looked at my two beautifully blue friends and heard “its about damn time. Now do it again!!!” I did. Over and over and over. Suddenly, I started noticing something; I was starting to do all of it with the same grace, hilarity, exuberance, and tenacity as my friends did. Courage.
As good old Gord would say; my word!!!
With Anxiety and with brain thought instability, living normally every day can be a challenge. It’s not that I am crazy. Don’t get me wrong: I do crazy things often, have crazy moments and have allowed Ms. Crazy to come out more often than she should. Yet, I realise now that I have a child, that crazy is the new normal. Anxiety however, that is hard.
It is said that if you are depressed, you look too much behind you. If you have too much anxiety, you live in the future. There are times I look so far forward, I am living in another generation. Deep breath. exhale. Again. And again… ok. I am back. The amount of “what ifs” don’t matter when you’ve missed the “what now”. I am beginning to learn oh so quickly that, you can’t get to the future without building the now. Right now. Now. If you need to make lists for every day to stay grounded and on a task, that’s ok! If you need to live by routine- do it. We’ve come in to this world without a manual. I know… religions have given us books to live by. That is a good start for many. But, while it stipulates rules on how to travel with belief, we need to also know that what we are doing and how we initiate those beliefs into the energy of the world, is good. We need to know that we haven’t caused a catastrophic shift in that energy. For those moments, there is no guide. All we can do is hold on for a second and watch if the Jenga falls. Not having a book is what can set people like me off. The care for others, the task being done properly and efficiently, the energy staying stable. That is what gets my head thinking in advance. Breathe. Exhale. Smile. Shoulders. Breathe. You are back. No books. So how do I know that I am doing things properly? I don’t. That’s just it. We don’t know. We won’t know until we do. Over and over again if we have to. We will only ever know, when we allow ourselves to just be in the moment.
So, how do we get to the moment? Breathing has become the best technique for me.And yes, I breathe… automatically. I mean deep breath. Fill those lungs up fully. Alter the pace of the breathing. I feel my chest getting tight. I take a breath. This has become my favourite, also because it makes my bust stick out just a bit. Hey, a girl can dream, no? Back to the breath. By altering the breath and refocussing, this allows you to lose your mind spiral and refocusing on you. centering yourself.
Another method that a friend taught me is to change your thought. Seems simple enough, yes. But when you’ve fallen down a deep rabbit hole, that simple shit turns complex! Changing your thoughts to what you cherish the most re-centers you. I combine it with a finger touch. Thumb to finger tip press, hold and think of your cherished item. do it three to five times and switch thumb to different finger each time.
My final one can be done anywhere. But, I am warning you that if you do it in aisle 7 of the grocery store, people may call the authorities. Child’s pose. Best. Like a hug, with deep breaths and time to think of your cherished valued things in your life. Like a sunday with the cherry on top.
If I may be metaphorical, drawing from my cliff jumping experience. You only live once. Experience thrill. There may be a rock down below. Jump feet first. Jump as far out as possible. Go with all your might. You will get bruises. But it also makes for amazing stories. It fills your heart with joy. It fills your brain with recall experiences.
Courage. My word. We need it everyday. And believe it or not… even the most confident in this world has to recall courage once in a while. But remember… if it doesn’t come, it doesn’t matter.
Downey, Gord. Courage (For Hugh MacLennan). The Tragically Hip. Chris Tsangarides, Piye., 1993. CD.