A common theme at this time of year, but this year is not ending the way 2010 did. I was blindsided in 2011 by more than a few things, but thanks to my friend Valerie’s gift of a really good book, I’m coming to grips with the fact that change is inevitable, and to live a better life, I need to stop resisting change and instead roll with the flow of it.
One of the biggest things I’ve learned is how powerful a motivator fear is. Ever see pickup trucks with “NO FEAR” on them? I used to think it was macho BS. On trucks, I still think it is, but it made me notice something. Everyone’s afraid of something. But a friend told me a long time ago, “Courage is knowing what you’re afraid of, and doing it anyway.” I keep that in mind when I query an editor or agent I would LOVE to work with but I know is so busy and so talented that everyone wants to get to her/him. I shut off the fear center in my brain, seal the envelope, and drop it in the mail. (Or shut my eyes and hit “send”. Believe me, I do that EVERY time.)
Now that I’m facing a very uncertain future, my first reaction was fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of whether I’d land on my feet. Fear that I’d never be happy again. Not to mention, hating the hell out of the person who swiped my future life and expectations out from under me. That hatred was born out of fear. I went through all the stages of grieving, and every now and then I get glimpses of “acceptance”. I’m like a mouse, peeking out from under the cupboard at a crumb on the center of the kitchen floor. Some times I get closer than others.
But it’s a matter of accepting change, rolling with it, and looking forward to what comes next. NOT being afraid of it.
It used to be the Madison Avenue slogan was, “Sex sells.” It’s why in the 70’s, my uncle bought a Mercury Cougar on his credit card, because he thought Farrah Fawcett came with it. Uh, no. But I’ve noticed that since 9/11, fear sells, maybe even more than sex. The market now offers programs to protect you from identity theft; commercials advise you what to keep in an emergency kit; home security system signs are on most houses on my block. Oftentimes, the price of security is privacy, but we won’t get into that. The ubiquitous “they” have figured out, you’ll do and pay anything to stay safe. Fight or flight is a natural human instinct. We want to stay alive.
I’m not saying I’m denying my fight or flight instinct from now on, but I’m not going to live in fear, either. Yes, I don’t know what’s around the corner. It could be a hot guy or it could be a rabid goat. I’m not going hide anymore, certain it’s the latter. It could be the former, too, and when it comes down to it, I won’t give up a chance at happiness in exchange for a guarantee of security. There’s no such thing as a guarantee of anything.
Phil Keoghan, the host of “The Amazing Race”, wrote a book called N.O.W.: No Opportunity Wasted. It’s an excellent read if you get a chance, and now that my life has changed direction, it’s something I refer to regularly. I need to stop being afraid and embrace the possibility that the next opportunity could make me deliriously happy. Or I could fall flat on my face, but even if I fail, I’ll learn from the experience of getting up again, and not making that mistake again. I just have to stop being afraid of failing and falling. (Interesting how those two works look so alike.)
So, while at the moment it feels like bravado, I’m ready to start the New Year. No resolutions; just the hope that this time, I’ll do better in all my endeavors.
I wish the same for you. Blessed, healthy, and prosperous 2012 to you!!