Daily Post Writing Prompt: Sidewalk
The word sidewalk takes me back to last year – the year I stepped out of my comfort zone and did something that terrified me.
I remember pulling into the parking lot and finding a spot close to the stairs that lead to a beautiful tree-lined sidewalk. I unclenched my sweaty hands from the steering wheel and forced myself to exit the car. I climbed the stairs and stood at the beginning of the concrete path. I knew the sidewalk would take me into a building that held the local theater company but I also knew the metaphoric path would take me some place too.
I was to audition for a part in the annual Christmas play and I remember vividly standing on the sidewalk and fighting a fierce battle with my fear. I have worked back stage and have made a few good friends; they and my family had talked me into auditioning. Did they see something I didn’t”?
A young girl of six or seven skipped past me and up the sidewalk, following close behind was an older gentleman, her father perhaps. She turned towards the man and exclaimed, “I am so nervous!” and her pigtail flapped with her bobbing head. The man offered her words of encouragement, they joined hands and continued up the path. I felt my inner child stir.
My inner child yearned to enjoy life. I wanted to try new things and to quit sitting on the sidelines (or staying backstage). Yet to be child-like at forty-eight is not an attractive sight. A six-year-old trying something new is cute, but I would look like a fool. The fear of appearing foolish eclipse my desire for a part in the play.
My inner child must have sensed fear was winning the battle, because I had a sudden urge to skip along the path like the six-year old. I wanted to throw caution to the wind and to take a risk – I wanted the experience.
I didn’t skip, but I squared my shoulders and lifted my chin and marched down that sidewalk, into the building and I auditioned. I did feel foolish and so ashamed that I cried all the way home afterwards. I was rewarded a small part and I rehearsed for weeks. I had the time of my life. When the curtain open for the first show, I was ready for it and I was as giddy as my six-year old co-actor.
I think of this day whenever I want to try something new. If I could perform on stage I could lead a bible study or sing in the church choir. I will use the memory for my future experiences.
Sidewalks are to take us some place – both literally and metaphorically.
The Daily Post Writing Prompt – Drive
We decided that our summer vacation would be Winter Park, Colorado, one of the highest communities in the state. I love the first reaction the boys had to the Rocky Mountains. At first the mountains appeared to be mirages on the horizons, barely visible through the misty rain. The clouds parted as we left Denver and the sun shown on the peaks, revealing patches of snow. As the men in the car were busy making plans on which mountain peak they would summit, I began to feel that gnawing pang of fear in the pit of my stomach. I was terrified of heights and I could only imagine what a drive to the summit of one of those mountains would be like.
My men decided on Mount Evans, which boasts the highest paved passenger route in North America at 14130 feet above sea level. It is just 20 feet higher than the famous Pikes Peak and not nearly as “touristy”. Fear wanted me to stay home but my love for my family won out and I joined them for this adventure. The drive up the mountain was the most terrifying drive I have ever experienced. Every hairpin turn looked like we would fall off the mountain, and I prayed feverishly at each one “Please no cars!” On one of the final turn to the summit we encountered a herd of mountain goats, in the middle of the narrow road and we had to ease the car around them to continue our climb.
Once at the highest point we could go with a car, we exited the car and the boys took off up a trail to take them a hundred feet higher to the summit. My husband and I felt the full impact of the change in altitude. I understand the term “breath-taking” for it was – literally. We made our way to the lookout’s edge and the view was like nothing I have ever experienced. I was at the same height as a single rain cloud raining somewhere miles away. I grabbed the rail and braved a glance down to the valley, I could see ant like cars crawling up the road. I eased back slightly from the rail and returned my gaze upon the view. My husband put his arm around me and we stood there in awe of the beauty. It was a beauty that touched my soul and a vision that will forever live in my memory. I tried to capture the moment with my camera, but it did not do it justice. The experience is hard to express with a flat picture and even harder still with words.
The drive down was much more bearable. My fear was under control and I was able to sneak peeks of the panoramic views. I marvel at how calm I was and I wonder if it was because I survived the drive up. Whatever the reason, I felt empowered with my fear under control and joined my family in their enthusiasm.
We pulled off to explore an area at a lower elevation and I was able to look up at the summit we just visited. Looking up at the massive mountain and it’s snow speckled peak gleaming in the sun was an impressive sight, but no comparison to what I experience at the top of it. Fear can keep me on the sidelines, but my soul longs for the experiences. Many times I let fear dictate where I am going – but not this time. This time I did not allow fear to drive.
Dailypost prompt: Cowardice
I feel the heat in my cheeks and the quickening heart beat. My jaw clenches and the small hairs stand up on my arms and the back of my neck. I stand rooted to the spot, wanting to run yet my feet refuse to move. Denial sets in – this can’t be happening – not to me. Why is it happening to me? Am I being punished? This is usually my first reaction when a “bad” event happens in my life. I will do anything to not face it.
I was taught God blesses those who are good and punishes those who sin. This is not a blessing – far from it. What did I do to deserve this? Where did I go wrong? What will people say? I must find a way to justify why this has happen to me. It is not my fault. That is it – find someone or something to blame. I am a victim in all of this. Pity is a powerful tool. I cannot be classified as “bad” if I am the victim.
When I am the victim I do not have to do anything. Why should I? I am not to blame. By being a victim I have created roadblock in my journey. I have an excuse for not moving forward. I have also created a shield for future villains; for how would it look if one would do wrong to a victim? I have created a perfect solution to all the problems life has to offer. A safety zone all wrapped up in being a victim. I do not have to do anything because I am a victim. No one can touch me because I am a victim. I have made myself a nice and tidy prison and fear is the prison guard.
Choosing to stay a victim is an act of cowardice.
This realization was a hard pill for me to swallow. Choosing to stay the victim is allowing fear to dictate my life. I have learned there is only one way to overcome victimization; and it is through forgiveness. The hardest thing I have ever done is face an event and/or person that wronged me and forgive. When I forgive, I release myself from being the victim and take ownership; allowing it to become a part of me, which is more than it being something done to me. If I allow the event or circumstance to become a part of me, I am then able to expand from it or in other words, grow from it. Eventually I am able to move out from under it and eventually I overcame it and I let it go. Or maybe I should say, I am let go from it, free from the prison that it created. This lesson has changed my life and continues to change me for I am still learning. Forgiveness is a huge lesson and it may take my lifetime to learn all it needs to teach me.
Life is not fair and bad things happen to good people. I may not deserve the bad nor do I deserve the good. I believe God does not dish out trials to those who do not live up to a certain standard. Nor do I believe he blesses only those who have acted righteously. God gives life – it is up to me how I choose to learn from it.
My garden is in the stage of summer slowly dying into autumn. I follow the path in search for inspiration and tiny moths bombard me. They dance around my head making me dizzy. They swarm to a nearby patch of marigolds. They hop from flower to flower drinking in the nectar until they seem drunk on it’s sweetness, then they leap into the air whirling and twirling like leaves in the wind, trying to impress a mate to complete its life cycle.
I want to continue my search in nature’s wonder for a spark to ignite my imagination, but fear has joined me on the path. Fear wants me to get back to business. Fear wants everything to run smoothly and demands me to do everything perfectly. Fear reminds me of all the people who are counting on me to do my share. “But I am hungry for inspiration and I long to create a story” I argue.
I am about to give into fear’s demand and give up on my quest when a small jewel of a bird hums past me and takes a sip of the sweet juice from the nearby feeder. It dips its head twice before taking off like a helicopter, hovering for a moment than disappearing. I noticed that I was holding my breath and I let it out slowly. The cleansing breath has subdued fear for a moment and I finally can hear myself think. I let the quietness wash over me until I hear the buzz of another hummingbird. As I watch it dine, I feel the stress fade away and I can feel the words lining up and a story taking shape. “Yes my little friend, I need this as much as you need that nectar”.
My feather muse leaves its perch and hovers in mid-air; he lets out a battle cry chirp as two smaller hummingbirds threaten to drink from the feeder. They circle each other readying themselves for war. I watch them spar with their tiny sword beaks and chase each other around the garden. I have read that the hummingbirds need frequent feedings because they use so much energy in flying and this time of year they need to fatten up to migrate. Why would they waste so much energy fighting with each other when there is plenty of food?
They fly around me; their beautiful feathers shine with brilliant colors as they move in the sunlight. With each twist and turn each one shines with it’s own kind of radiance, a jewel dancing on the wind in a perfectly orchestrated ballet. It is a story of nature and how a creature will fight for what he believes he needs for survival.
One of the birds flies to where I am standing and directs his angry chirps at me. I imagine him saying, “What are you looking at, punk!” I laugh at this image and answer the little gangster, “Are you going to fight me? It’s my garden and my feeder.” The war ends as quickly as it began. The feeder sways gently in the breeze and the pegs are bare of patrons. All that energy used and still no one has eaten.
I look around at the fading garden and I can see why nature is in a state of urgency, the season is changing and there is much to do. This time of year is busy for us humans too. It seems that we go from slow summer days to fast and furious fall. Our schedules are filled and there is little room for leisure activities like searching for creativity in the garden. I find myself sending up curt prayer to God. I shake my fist and chirp angry words at him as if it is his fault. I can almost hear him say, “You are going to fight me? It’s my garden and I have provided for you.” I smile at this irony and I take a sip from the inspiration placed before me. I allow it to trickle down into my soul where it will be use to color my world with words. The morsel of dancing hummingbirds will forever live on the page and I will snack upon it when I can’t convince fear to allow me to have a full-course meal of inspiration.
It is energy well spent.
I live on a lake managed by dams; water rises during the summer and lowers in the winter. We are near what the locals call full pool, and little pockets of water have formed as the lake slowly rises. In my quiet time last week I watched ducks swim in the small pool behind our house. Around and around they went going nowhere. I recalled a parable I heard during a Beth Moore study. On one of her walks she noticed ducks swimming in a puddle. She was amazed that the creatures chose the puddle instead of the lake that was just over the hill. She compared it to people who have chosen small lives when they could have bigger ones. Continue reading
I have a new favorite movie, Big Fish. I watched it last weekend and I have thought about it non-stop. To summarize, it was about a man who told wild tall tales, yet as you watched you soon realize that these tales had some truth to it.
I vowed that I would always speak the truth in my writings. I would not fabricate anything, yet the thought of being able to tell a story – where the truth is woven in – is very appealing. To write the words “I am so afraid” feels too harsh, even if it is the truth. Continue reading