To Become is to Be Courageous

I sometimes wish I were a loser.  Or at least a person who is content with a mediocre life, a safe, guaranteed 80 plus years of comfort and certainty.  While I am quite vocal about my bewilderment with such “average janes,” I do secretly envy these complacent souls.  I have a suspicion that these people do not spend a lot of time trying to “become.”  I am fairly certain that the reward of complacency is a life emptied of stress, anxiety, frustration and similar emotions that those of us who obsess over self-fulfillment and personal growth know at an intimate level.

Last week I found myself on a hill, questioning why “becoming” was so important to me.  Actually, the truth is I found myself crawling up a friggin’ mountain (ominously named “Breakneck Ridge”) quietly cussing out the friend who had convinced me to hike up said mountain.  The serene, vigorous stroll through the forest I had envisioned when this friend described the hike was threatening to become an extensive, 8-hour climb up and over hundreds of rocks and through trails that involved my having to slide down more rocks on my butt.  (The hike made good on its threat, by the way.  A week later, I am just now able to sit cross-legged on the floor without asking for help.)

When the evil friend who shall remain nameless (Nicholas L. Handville who currently resides in Fort Greene, Brooklyn) called to invite me on the hike, I was wallowing in my annoying state of becoming.  Becoming a woman who takes risks. Becoming a woman who runs, wide eyed and open armed, to the unfamiliar.  A woman who has big enough balls to fail.  A woman who does new stuff.  I was ruminating on this concept of “Just say yes, Girl!”  Pretend you’re a really cool Nike commercial from the 90’s.  JUST. DO. IT.  When Nick invited me to possibly break my neck scaling this ridge, I was recommitting myself to an experiment I began months ago.  Simply put: I would say yes to anything someone asked me to do…unless it involved crack or Tyler Perry movies.  So, Nick caught me at a particularly weak moment.  He asked me to climb up Breakneck Ridge and I had no choice but to say yes.  To just do it.  While I am not a hardcore outdoorsy girl who hikes for 8 hours, I reasoned, I can become one.  After all, I live to become.  

I will spare you the details of my forays into whining and refusing to take certain trails and having to be hoisted up rocks several times by patient “outdoorsy” people who smiled at me akin to the manner in which I smile at the student who raises her hand to answer a question that was asked 20 minutes earlier.  My 8 hour debacle in its hiliraious detail is not the focal point of this entry.  What the hike made me realize is the focal point.

Before the hike began, I looked up Breakneck Ridge at the collection of boulders that were piling on top of one another adding to the already extensive incline and thought about the massive amount of courage I would have to muster just to tentatively place one foot on the too-smooth surface.  I found myself almost breathless at how  difficult this was for me.  It was not the doing of it that was difficult.  It was the summoning of courage that rendered me almost useless before the hike even began.

Several times throughout the hike, I made note of this.  Before I could even think about how difficult it would be to scale a rock that sat wedged a gazillion feet above solid ground, I had to find the courage to convince myself to do it.  Then I had to dig for even more courage to actually do it.  Before I could do anything, I already needed to have conjured up copious amounts of courage.

And this is perhaps why becoming exhausts me.  To become anything involves having to silence a host of irrational fears (or at least ignore them) long enough to convince yourself that yes, you are able to do this.  The fear I felt on Breakneck Ridge is quite similar to the fear I feel when I attempt to make new friends.  I hear the same voice questioning me. Asking, “But, what if…”  The fear I felt on Breakneck Ridge is similar to the fear I feel when I write a query letter to yet another agent.  The same condescending, “But, what if…”  It is the same fear that causes me to labor for hours over spending more money than I’d budgeted for on any non-essential item.  An accusatory, “But, what if…”  In each occasion, I am sometimes awed at how the difficulty lies in the ability to convince myself that everything will be just fine if I talk to the smiling stranger, approach Edwidge Danticat’s agent, spend the extra 20 bucks on a backpack I will only use a handful of times.  And if things aren’t fine, in the comical way the Universe works…that, too, will be just fine.

Aside from the tenacity it takes to become the woman you want to be.  Forgetting about the devotion to evolving as a human.  It is the courage inherent in transforming into the woman the Universe has planned for you to be that seems to be the most difficult.  Courage does not come easy for many.  It is an intangible, elusive must-have that is a lot easier not to even bother searching for.  The average janes know this.  It stands to reason that they are a lot smarter than we “strivers” acknowledge.  Becoming is probably why I value naps as much as I do.

2 Responses

  1. Keeping doing and becoming! And say no to Tyler Perry. We know that even in failure there’s still a lesson to learn and a story to tell.

  2. Crack is whack, and Tyler Perry movies are………special. Perry became courageous just by putting it out there. Now if he can get better (co-)writers, like myself, to help him put out better popcorn productions.

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