The Courage to Risk
Anaïs Nin: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”
Winter is still clinging tightly to the pasture. The icy wind threatens, and despite the sun there are still patches of snow. Yet, almost imperceptibly, spring is being born. There is mud where the snow has been. The grass is subtly greener, spring onions rise in dainty clumps, and tiny weeds don miniscule purple flowers ornaments. The horses are shedding. Even a last-chance snow storm can’t stop the tide of life and awakening that has begun.
I’m a cantankerous old woman; I’m not mean-spirited, just crotchety. I resist things. I like routine. I’ve had enough trauma and upheaval in my life that there’s a soothing quality to sameness. Well, that’s what I tell myself, anyway.
There’s something I’ve been thinking about for years, something I need to do. It’s nothing earth-shattering, just something that my heart and soul keep reaching for, no matter how many times I shut the door on the idea.
Does that sound familiar? What does that slamming door sound like?
I can’t, because…. (insert reason here).
it probably wouldn’t work out
it might be too painful
I wouldn’t really be any good at it
I’m too old, too fat, too….
I drew a line in this sand years ago, and I’m not crossing it now
And here we are, not moving forward, not yielding to the change, the growth that aches to be born, like the inevitable spring. The funny thing is that the longer we cling to our notions of why we “can’t”, the further from view the truth actually gets. For instance, if we say to ourselves for years, “I’m too (fill in the blank) to do this thing.” That starts sounding like truth to us. And not just a truth, the truth – the great mother-of-all truths.
What if we were willing to risk peeling back that tough outer layer of the truth-onion. Are we afraid of what we might see? Probably. But if we have the courage to do it, we’re usually surprised that it was not only effortless, it revealed something interesting.
But, it’s not quite enough. What about that next layer, and the next? The stories we tell ourselves, the protection against risk, against hurt, against exposing ourselves and feeling vulnerable – are they the truth? Probably not. Mine aren’t. Oh, and I’ve got some really juicy material for stories. But, they’re a little old. A little worn out. And it does take so much energy to maintain them.
For me, as the layers of the Great Onion of Truth fall away, what I’m most often left with is, “I drew a line in this sand years ago, and I’m not crossing it now.” But then, I’m cantankerous that way.
What if….? Maybe there’s really nothing stopping me. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to relax my grip a bit, welcome the vulnerability of spring.
When I went out this morning, the daffodils were just as they had been for weeks, tightly waiting buds, braced against the cold. This evening, on the way to feed the horses, I walked past them again. They had opened. A tiny yellow lesson.
All photographs copyright Zen Doe