Sometimes thoughts swirl too fast in my head. I can feel them forming; pushing on each other trying to squeeze to the front of my cerebral cortex vying for center stage. They can just take over. They Squat inside of me, find their opening, a weak moment and they morph. I become paralyzed.
Like the time I found myself on the top of a 35 foot telephone pole. Yeah, I climbed up there and believe you me, that last step was a doozy. With no railing, nothing to hold onto but my own balance, I took that last step up and stood at the top of that pole.
It was my choice. Although, it had been planned behind my back, all the while my business partner saying, “If you don’t feel like it you don’t have to do it”. We were shooting a promotional video as a favor for the owners of this ropes course and horse ranch out in the middle of Fallbrook off I-15. I was the last shot of the day and the freak show entertainment.
So, I’m on the top of this pole and I want to be down on the ground but the only way down is to jump. I have to leap and reach for a trapeze and trust that I will catch it and be just fine. I was harnessed in, safe, supported. I didn’t feel safe. I was staring at that trapeze and my feet glued themselves to the top of that pole.
I know others who have chosen the dive. Others who have leaped, arms spread, heart finally open, leaving their fears and troubles behind them. I know others that have jumped from ledges higher than this pole. I know.
Andrea, the stocky lesbian, part owner of the ranch, stands below looking up at me. She is a complete stereotype dressed like a horse ranch owner in faded Levis, broken in Chippewa boots, button down jean work shirt. Her hands are cupped around her mouth. She shouts up at me, “What are you stuck in up there? Look how comfortable you are stuck in your old ways. You would rather stay on that pole stuck in your old ways and patterns than jump to your freedom! Don’t you want to be free?” Pop psychology aside, she does have a point. Its true. I’m up here, they’re down there and the thought has crossed my mind, just leave me here, I’ll be fine. Jumping is too scary but the only way down is to jump.
It’s getting late. The horses are restless in the corral behind me. So are the crew. Tired from a long hot day, talking amongst themselves, occasionally looking up to see if I’m still here. Even the conductor of this movement looks away toward the cars and the long drive home.
I think of that Martin Luther King Jr. quote. Something about taking a step even if you can’t see it or know where it will lead or something like that. It’s about trust and faith.
Looking down, I realize that the wrong people surround me. I have friends that don’t respect me. I’m working with people I don’t trust. I need to remove myself. I’ve seen the lies, the pretend attempts to build bridges, bricks made of acting class exercises and alligator tears, the pretend illnesses and excuses and diversions. I’ve been on the end of too much pretend. I know when it’s happening. I feel it in the hairs that stiffen on the back of my neck and the scrape in the pit of my belly. I know it’s not just me, that they’re lying to their kids, husbands and to themselves. Still, changes must be made.
I want to go home.
I breathe in deep and I leap. My arms are reaching forward to the trapeze.
What did I leave up on that pole?
When I was 25 my Dad died. He left me broken and terrified. My family tried using alcohol and humor to cover up the hole his leaving left in each of us. Get this, his tombstone says, “Pardon me for not rising”.
For over 20 years that fear has nested in my gut like a fat-and-happy tapeworm, sucking at my life.
Pardon me for not rising and standing up for myself time and time and time again. Pardon me for not rising up, but instead hiding my light from those that can’t see their own. Pardon me for not rising up and shouting at the top of my lungs, this is what I believe, this is who I am, this is my truth. Pardon me for not rising up to every occasion in my life, standing tall and strong and proud. Pardon me for not rising and not diving sooner arms spread, like a swan or a bird in flight into the embrace of my life. Pardon me for not rising.
I didn’t reach grab the trapeze, but it didn’t matter. The rope attached to my harness deflected and stopped my free fall.
That was four years ago. I have created a lot of space since then and some of that space has been filled in with wonder and joy, love and creativity, truth and honesty and delicious friendships.
I leaped. I freed my mind and well, the rest just followed.