“I constantly live in fear,” she said squinting her almond shaped eyes as she smiled nervously. “But that’s just me, I guess.”
I was talking with a friend, and she was crossed between a mother’s lament in protecting her child from unforeseen dangers and her inability to take chances with her own life. I’m not talking about bucket list chances (skydiving, bungee jumping or cliff diving), I’m talking about honest to goodness fear of doing something unassuming, like swimming.
“I never learned to swim. . . ,” there was a small tremor in her voice. “. . . and the thought of my baby in a pool. . . , ”she continued shaking her head.
What could I say, I couldn’t swim either.
Her gaze turned downward and lingered as if to seek an answer. Suddenly, her eyes widened like she remembered something. A muffled sound escaped her mouth and then a small puff of air.“I shouldn’t place MY fears on my daughter, right?. . . ,” she smiled looking at me.
And then I thought about my life, I cannot begin to tell you about the dozens of inherited fears I have. These are burdens that I’ve carried around for years that were never actually mine. They were part superstition, part sound advice, and part just downright foolishness.
It’s more than not stepping on a sidewalk crack, breaking mirrors or splitting trees. As kids we were taught to enter and leave the house through the same doors, to not sweep in front of our houses after dark, and to not play with our shadows.
I didn’t question, I just obeyed. Those fears and beliefs became my fears and beliefs.
Because of this inherited mindset, I try to be mindful of how I interact with my children, family and friends, not limiting their aspirations to my own insecurities or lack of understanding.
I decided that playing with my shadow is a good thing, hell, they even wrote a song about it. I come and go as I please in and out my house, and I honestly don’t have a reason to sweep outside after dark.
But I won’t test fate, I refuse to step on a sidewalk crack.
Think about your own life. What are some of your fears? Are they truly yours?