I remember going skiing with my sister and her friends when I was about 16.
It was then that I had to face my fear of steep inclines. A fear I didn’t even know I really had until then.
I had these long narrow skis on for the first time in my life, and after becoming quickly bored by the amateur kiddie slope, I knew I had to move on to something more challenging.
But the next step up was actually down down down… a slope that seemed dangerously steep.
It probably wasn’t. Being next in the skiing procession, it likely was a realistic step 2. But for me terror gripped my heart and made my arms and legs go numb at the prospect of going down it, and it wasn’t just from the snow.
I must have expressed my fear to my sister then – I wanted to ski, go down, do something… but it was so damn steep.
She gave me some sage advice. Advice that helped me through that moment, and advice that you can apply to almost any overwhelming situation in life:
“Just look at the space in front of you. Don’t worry about the next 10 metres, or even try looking all the way down the slope – just keep your eyes in front of your feet.”
I was completely shitting myself, but following her lead, did as I was told.
I made it. Sure, I fell over myself awkwardly a few times, but soon I was sailing down, swerving left and right, and making sure my eyes were safely trained on that small space in front of me, that small space I knew I could accomplish.
Little skiing steps.
I had to overcome a similar fear today… but this one involved looking UP.
It’s been 5 years since my last writing workshop/class, an activity that was severely overdue for this creative head. I headed over to the Allen and Unwin East Melbourne office to partake in a Faber Writing Academy one-day course.
I absolutely loved every moment of it. The interactivity, the encouragement. The shared and similar ideas, sharp proof that I was on the right track. The writing space provided, and of course, the highly sought after, terrifying feedback.
I can honestly say that once the day was done, I felt with all of my being, that I was definitely on my lifelong path. With so much upheaval this past year, uncertainty and confusion being such a prevalent theme in my life, to find that what I had always known and hoped for, was definitely the path I had to take, the path that was for me, was a true joy to realise.
How did I know?
Just the way you know in the feelings that emerge from such an experience.
Like when you have custard for the first time and you go “mmm.”
Or when you hear a new song and straight off you KNOW you’re going to play it until all those around you start to despise you.
The way you feel when you find love, and that little voice tells you “watch out – this is it.”
It’s that same knowing.
I’ll leave you with one of my writing exercises of the day that we did off-the-cuff… it tells you more about my journey today in ways that I simply can’t at this heady midnight hour.
Theme? A journal entry. Why, I know ‘a little’ about that 😉
THE JOURNAL ENTRY EXERCISE
I thought I had given myself ample time to get there.
Local café brekkie. My cappuccino had a leaf design in it, the way all hipster cafes do nowadays, and it reminded me of my most favourite emblem, the tree.
Tall, looming and abundant in nature, its roots expansive and far-reaching, to places our eyes were not privy to.
The tree was the symbol of growth and renewal, and the way in which it bared its leaves for all to see, still stood grandly amidst its shedding, and then found the innate courage to sprout green all over again, was an inspiration to me.
It was to be a similar fate for me that day.
The unveiling of myself. My deepest and most personal stories, a torchlight shone brightly on, magnified and criticised for all my like-minded peers to see.
There’s nothing like being in a room of those who do what you do, to instil the greatest sense of doubt in oneself.
Suddenly, I had 10 minutes to go and this huge mother of an escalator LOOMED before me. What? No one had told me I would have to scale those insane heights?
I clutched the rubber rail to my left at the train station, staring at the man’s orange tiger on his sneaker in front of me, willing the mechanical steps to go faster.
But because I had a fear of steep inclines, of course it took its time.
My journey to the top, body leaning forward at a 90 degree angle, was a brutal one. I couldn’t even look back down to the depths of the platform below to see how far I’d come.
I think I’ll take the lift on my way down.
And that is why I am a never-ending… work in progress.