So you know how you when you walk into a bathroom stall, you’re supposed to make sure the door is locked so that the next person doesn’t open said door wide as all outside to catch a full frontal of you, pants at ankles, nonchalantly seated, scrolling on your phone? Yea… it’s been that kinda day.
When I think of cruises, generally ports like Miami are what come to mind. Flying to Miami, enjoying the beaches and nightlife, and then hopping on a ship. New Orleans? Not so much. So when I found out that this year I’d be cruising from the New Orleans port, I was like whaatt?? To be honest, I didn’t even realize New Orleans had a port. When I think of New Orleans, I think of Essence Music Fest, Cafe Du Monde, and Bourbon street… and not necessarily in that order. Cruises, though? Never. But what an amazing port of call, especially for foodies…
…and then suddenly all this poetry fills my head, and I write…
it’s not the big things
not at all
like the celebrations or the milestones
but the mundane
when i’m washing dishes
painting my toenails
sitting in traffic
it’s the nothing too particular
the not very special
the i’ve probably done this a million times in my sleep
that i think of you
when i remember your scent
laugh at your laugh
when I’m not paying attention
when i’ve stopped building that fence around
– well everything –
that a scene replays in my mind
that a smirk sneaks upon my lips
that i steal a secret moment of silent reminisce
i can handle the big things
but it’s those little things
those fleeting moments that don’t mean much of nothing
that time when time doesn’t count
that i remember
there was an us
and we was happy.
Yes, it’s true. Secret’s out. This frequent flier of the clear blue (but oftentimes turbulent) skies has a deep-seated, text your loved ones goodbye, pray ten times before takeoff and seven more times in the air fear: flying. From DC to Brazil to California to Rome, each and every flight in my lifetime has caused me a guaranteed and certain anxiety. Early morning, late night, well planned out, or last minute – it doesn’t even matter. If I’m going up, so is my heart rate.
Even as I write this now, I’m nervously shifting in my 22A window seat (cue Eryka Badu) pondering my life and hoping that I’ve made Him proud. Cause what else do you ponder at this insane altitude watching the lights flicker on the earth below somewhere between Texas and Baltimore? I tried to go to sleep, as I almost always attempt to do before takeoff, but like so many times before – I’ve failed. So now I’m up, my Beats by Dre pumping NeoSoul into my eardrums, doing their best to drown out the turbulence and my own overactive imagination. They are failing as well.
The question, though, is why do I put myself through this anguish? I mean right now the ride is relatively smooth and I feel like I am in no immediate danger. But there have been flights where I have cried real tears and where the poor soul next to me has grabbed my hand to reassure me that we would live. (Yes, he really did – I must have looked as terrified as I was.) So why, again, do I do this to myself of my own free will every chance I get? It’s simple:
Because what I really want is on the other side of fear.
And isn’t that so often the case? Think about it. What would you do in this very moment if you weren’t afraid to do it? Where would you go? Who would you talk to? What would you say? Who would you become?
And I’m not referring to the healthy fear, the one that protects us and guides us to make wise decisions. That fear of being run over that keeps a lone child from crossing a busy street. That fear is helpful. That fear can save lives. But what about that other fear. That negative fear that causes us to not go for that promotion or opportunity, to not approach that person we’ve been eyeing from afar, to not say I’m sorry, or that I love you first. That kind of fear is stifling, debilitating. That’s the kind of fear that would’ve kept me from seeing the castles in Portugal, from swimming with the sting rays in the Cayman Islands. I may have never gotten the chance to freeze my tail off in Paris or scare myself silly in London’s museum of wax. Yes I had to nervously board a plane to attain all of these experiences, but I felt the fear and then did it anyway.
What fear are you feeling at this very moment? (Mine is that the captain just announced our descent.) But what about you? Is there something you’d like to do/say/be but an unhealthy fear is getting in the way? Why not re-evaluate and then make it happen. As I wrote in a previous post, arrange and rearrange. People often say that life is too short to be unhappy. I say life is too long. Some people go 30, 40, 50+ years carrying shoulda’ woulda’ coulda’s that tear them up inside. That’s too long. Too long to be sad. Too long to be unhappy. Too long to be afraid. My aim is to live a determined life; to set fearless goals, and then work fiercely to attain them: spiritual, physical, and otherwise. And as I prepare to utter my next “oh Lord, please let this plane land safely cause I don’t wanna die” prayer, I sincerely urge you to do the same. (Not the prayer part, just the goals part… though prayer never hurts. But that’s for another blog post :))
It is in the gathering of women,
whether to weep or laugh in abandoned honesty,
dripping dreams and fears,
but never the wine…
that sisterhood of commonality that yes you are different
(but not really THAT different)
and that it’s ok to be strong and frail,
happy and sad,
hopeful and scared all at the same time…
to be assured that we are not in competition with each other,
only past versions of ourselves,
and that we hope we all make it (and actually mean it)…
It is in these gatherings of women who travel and preach and labor and pray
that you are thankful
and loved beyond comprehension,
reminded that it won’t always be easy but most certainly always worth it
so you press ever onward,
ready for battle come what may…
For it is here,
in this gathering of feeling and knowing,
that you finally understand:
you are not alone.