Man walking next to me: You’re walking awfully quickly on those crutches!
Me: Yes, I know. I’m an athlete!
Man now slightly ahead of me: You mean you were an athlete.
Me (wanting to throw my words at the man): I still am and always will be!
I found it both interesting and appalling how much ignorance that one statement contained. One would think that with all the videos and blogs out there in internet land that share stories of triumph over physical “limitations” one would not be so quick to judge.
That interaction got me thinking when I got home. How often do we let society’s expectations of our conditions, be they physical, mental or otherwise, govern our outcomes? How often does one receive a diagnosis and then allow those words to determine their future? How often do we accept the minimum best of ourselves?
Alternatively what causes a person to fight against all the odds, rally the troops, exceed expectations and crush statistics?
I found a commonality among all of those questions…FEAR.
Not too long ago I was asked by someone if I intended to ride my bike again when I am recovered. Without hesitation I answered “As soon as I possibly can!” This person responded with “Aren’t you afraid?” My answer might surprise you.
I don’t know many people who could go through what I went through and not be even slightly rattled. However in the time that it took me to answer that question I had already done 2 things. I had allowed myself to have fear and instead of letting it control me I had taken control of it simply by stating my intention.
Don’t get me wrong here. Fear is not a 6 headed demon that is going to eat you in your sleep. It can be a very useful tool in extremely scary situations. Fear can protect you from an enemy and it can cause you to slow down and re-evaluate a potentially dangerous action. It can show up as that little voice of reason when the choice you are about to make might not be the right one.
Fear can also act as a barrier or deterrent. Fear of the unknown can come from illness or injury, financial hardship, changes in relationship or any other myriad of life circumstances. For some it is fear of their true potential that keeps them stagnant in their pursuits.
Ahhhh, fear. Could you possibly wear any more hats?
I am not telling you not to be afraid. Fear is going to show up no matter what you do at different points in your life. It’s like an old friend who pops in now and then to pay a visit. Just don’t let it stay. Give it an eviction notice if it gets too comfortable. Allow it to make its presence known and then let…it…go.
So yes, I am going to get back on my bike. I am going to ride again with the wind in my face and the burn in my legs. Fear will serve to make me smarter but it will stop me from doing what I love so very much.
Wherever you are, whatever you are doing I hope that you are able to welcome fear, to acknowledge it, to allow it to be…and then to destroy it!