Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Nothing to Fear but...

I am in the process of learning to swim after 30 some years of living with an intense phobia of water, especially water where the bottom is beyond sight. This Wednesday evening, I will be climbing into 12 feet of water and tackling that fear head-on. I am a person torn. Part of me is thrilled to take on this challenge, having waited so long to purge this particular demon from my soul. The calm pool awaits my plunge away from fear and into freedom. There is another side, however, that is much more primal and controlling. It grabs hold of my body, even when I'm standing next to deep water, safe on solid ground. There is seemingly no reasoning with myself when I am in that other place and I shake, gasp, and cry in protest of my planned leap into the unknown. It is a test of wills, raging inside me. I can imagine the future if I choose to leap and yet, I am blinded by the terror of the now.

It all comes down to trust. I have a great teacher, someone who is patient, understanding, attentive, and careful. I trust that he will not let me drown. But, more importantly, I must trust myself. I must move past what I fear and trust that something wonderful lies beneath, even if I cannot see it.

In some small way, art journaling is often like this. When I sit down to journal, the white page rises up to meet me, blind me, scare me into not proceeding. I stare at it, frozen, not by the emptiness but by the fullness of possibilities. I am afraid of getting lost in the page, of losing my way in my quest for the great entry, the perfect image, the innovative technique. I am afraid of letting go of the edge and falling where I may. And yet, paradoxically, that is exactly what I must do if I want to land anywhere meaningful.


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