"Do you want to walk in fear, or do you want to walk in love? " asks my dear friend, Dr. Tanya English. I'm not sure if she is the one who coined the phrase or not, regardless, I often hear the words in her voice inside my head. It's a question I pose to myself in the midst of worry or confusion. It helps me to see the intention behind my thinking patterns--to know if I am making choices based on fear or based on Trust, openness, and desire. The latter, of course, being the kinds of choices I wish to now make.
Fear is restrictive. It causes tension in the muscles and in the mind. Fear-based thinking doesn't allow for change or new ideas. And for many of us who are habituated into fear-based thinking, it's often what comes up first.
I was recently invited to take a trip this summer to West Virginia for a music festival, and although I was immediately excited about the prospect, some anxieties quickly crept up. In my 12+ years of mothering, I have yet to take even a weekend vacation without my kids--let alone a camping trip up in the mountains for an entire week. I used to be afraid to leave my children for any length of time because I worried that something would happen to them. And I wanted to make sure I was always near enough--just in case.
One thing my divorce and the subsequent taking turns at child-rearing has taught me over the last year is how to let go of worry and simply Trust that my children will be all right outside of my watchful eye. And they are all right. They are better than all right. They survive without me hovering. They survive, and even thrive, in the hands of others. And their absence often makes me appreciate their presence that much more. So, when I think of leaving them at their dad's for a week while I take a summer road trip, I breathe easy. My perception shifts: they--and I--walk in Love.
When I first read about this music festival that takes place in the mountains in West Virginia, my other knee-jerk, fear-based thoughts were "how am I going to get up there?" and "what if I freak out and can't go any further." My last ride into the mountains years ago had me stuffing my head under a sweatshirt, hiding tears from my then 4-year-old daughter. I began to wonder if I was going to be reliving that scenario. And camping? The closest I had ever come to sleeping in a tent was hanging out in my friend's backyard in 7th grade until my parents came to get me at midnight. So "how will I shit in a port-o-potty?" and "who is going to tell the mosquitoes to leave me alone for 4 days?" suddenly seemed like really logical questions to have.
But I stopped myself and posed a different question. That one about walking in fear or walking in love. I thought about all the amazing adventures I could have on this trip, like seeing parts of the country I've never been to and the prospects of jamming with some incredible musicians. I thought about how luxurious the scenery would be at nightfall and the tranquility that would wash over me as I doze off to sleep under a starlit sky. I thought about all the notebook paper I would fill, being able to catch the wind of inspiration at any given time.
I also thought about the company I would be keeping along the way, and realized that a part of me was fearing my own fears. Having been ridiculed and unaccepted by others in the past for having anxieties, I realized I was worried about my fears being intolerable to my travelling companion. But that, too, is fearful thinking. Instead, I needed to simply allow myself to feel the fear and then still choose to walk in love. Only from there can I accept my Self wholly and step into another grand adventure. It is one step at a time, this shift from fear to love, and when I step into life with an open heart, what I find is that I am met with the same openness and acceptance as I emit.