Greetings from the Land of Enchantment: Remember when you were fearless?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Remember when you were fearless?

Nirbhao. . . .Fearless
from Nanak's Japji Sahib, the Mul Mantra, a name of God--a description of our own divine nature--fearless.

I remember when I was a kid, my family and I went to Washington DC for my sister's graduation trip. I was 9; she was 18, my brother was somewhere in the middle. We rented a motor home and drove the entire way, listening to my mother and father argue about why his clothes hadn't been packed and what would she do without the beauty parlor for 3 weeks. Meanwhile, my grandpa taught us all how to play poker and we gathered wild strawberries from the side of the road as we hiked through the Appalachian countryside. Once we arrived in the big city, I was like a volunteer tour guide. Running toward the underground and figuring out the routes, how to pay, etc., absolutely fearless.

It takes my breath away now to remember how fearless I was. Where did it go? What reigned it in? And can I ever get it back?

If I'm really honest, much of it was my leonine bravado--constitutional, with a little bit of emotional compensation thrown in for flavor. But there was also true and absolute fearlessness--invincibility--that somehow got lost along the way to adulthood.

As I reflect on it, my fearlessness became recklessness, which became a kind of madness--and once I reached the other side of madness, in pursuit of a life, a mature life, somehow the truth of my fearlessness never quite resumed its course. I became careful, cautious. Friends would look at me and say, "When did your world become so small?" (Twenty square blocks to be exact.) And I would reply, this is what my life looks like now; this is what surviving means--staying somewhere in the middle of my extreme tendencies.

But years of caution, carefully tiptoeing around myself and others, left me with a bitter, dry taste in my mouth. And years of heartache and grief left me a bit too salty. So when something sweet and full of life crossed my path recently, I had to ask myself--am I fearless enough to receive it? Do I still have it in me to jump? After all this time, can I still fly?



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