What if you weren't afraid?
I know- my god, Sarah. Who hasn't written about this, lectured on it, even sang about it- ad nauseum at that?
But it's my question to ask. For me. To myself.
what if I wasn't afraid?
Well, it might look like this:
~ I'd tell you what I really think about the sensitive topics, and it would be okay with me if we disagreed, or even if you didn't like me anymore for it. It would be okay if you stopped being my friend or respecting me because of it. I'd tell you what I really think about our nation's foreign policy, health care, women's issues, human rights, animal rights, sexuality, religion, abortion, gay rights, feminism, the existing two-party structure in our country as it is today, global warming, the class system in America, women's spirituality versus patriarchy, factory farms, Wal-Mart, and how I cry my eyes out over these topics regularly because I feel the pain of the controversies and abuses surrounding these issues deeply.
~ I'd write down the words in my head and heart without tearing every syllable apart, worrying that they're not smart enough, creative enough, original enough to be published. Actually, that wouldn't matter because that wouldn't be the reason I was writing in the first place.
~ I'd say "Thank You' when someone complimented me, and nothing else. Especially not empty words to qualify whatever it was I did, or said, to show my humility and awareness that I'm really not that special. I also wouldn't feel pressure to return a creative compliment to the one who paid me one just to be fair.
Nope, if I wasn't afraid, I'd enjoy that compliment and suck the marrow out of it, because if I wasn't afraid, I would take it as the gift it is meant to be and acknowledge that what I am means something important to the person who gave it to me.
~ On that note- if I wasn't afraid, I'd remember far more of the compliments I receive than the insults, unkindness, unfairness, rudeness and flat-out meanness that sticks in my brain like an arrow lodged there with the fletchings sticking out there for the whole world to view my inadequacies by.
~ I'd tell you that just because you are related to a person, that doesn't make them your family. I'd tell you that your guilty feelings are not love, and it is not your job to suffer inside a toxic relationship because of shared DNA. I'd remind you of what you know down deep- your first responsibility is to yourself- otherwise you are of no use whatsoever to the rest of us who need your light. I'd say these things to you because I live them and know them to be true.
~ I'd cry in front of you when I feel like it. I'd let you see what touches me, even if you think I'm silly, or a baby, or an over-emotional female. That would be okay with me because I would be okay with myself.
~ I'd say 'No' when I don't want to do something, or don't have the energy for something, or don't believe in what you are asking of me. I wouldn't say "I'm sorry" about it because there is nothing for me to apologize for. Saying no isn't a bad thing, or an "unladylike" thing. It's a word. A good word.
( as a side note- isn't it interesting that one of the first words we learn as a baby is "no", and it is probably the first word we unlearn as women?)
~ I'd wear sexier clothes that show off my body. That doesn't make me a slut. That doesn't mean I'm "asking" for it. It means I enjoy my body and I'm proud of how it looks, and I enjoy the way pretty clothes make me feel.
~ I'd stop being 'little' red riding hood, the dutiful granddaughter pursued by the big, bad wolf, fearing the darkening forests.
Instead, I would be the red-hooded wild woman, embracing her wolfishness, her red circle of wise sisters, her communion with the tall, dark trees of the forest at night. I'd stop pretending shame and spend more time dancing naked.
~ I'd say what is really in my heart when someone asks my advice, and I would stop being shocked every time they do.
~ I'd say something to the parent who is verbally abusing and/or manhandling their child in a public place, or in my home, or in another's home. Abuse is wrong, and must be stopped. Period.
~ I'd stop making all my most important decisions based on worst-case scenarios.
~ I would treat my money like the thing it is- a tool, not a god.
~ I'd stop trying to talk myself out of being angry at injustice, unkindness, unfairness, and the general lack of compassion I see in the world. I would understand that being angry is not a bad thing, and that it's okay that I feel angry. I would stop pretending that to be compassionate toward all people means never being angry at people.
~ I'd stop trying to be the quiet, respectful woman in groups when I'm really the 'I actually have something to say about that' woman. It's who I am, and have always been, and probably will always be.
~ I'd stop trying to find a leader to follow and realize that I am her.
~ I'd see my face in the mirror and believe I'm beautiful.
~ I'd share my deeper self with others instead of keeping them at arm's length. I'd stop being afraid that they will hurt me, neglect me, abandon me, abuse me, disregard me. It wouldn't matter if they did any of those things, because I would be so in love with the deeper me that I would be enough, always enough for myself, that I could spill out and over and bless others with the sheer volume of joy bubbling up and pouring out over the rim of my soul.
~ I'd stop pretending my fear is really humility.
~ I wouldn't shy away from the light I feel inside me, and I would finally stop trying to dim its glow around others.
~ I would remember every moment of every day,
Anne Morrow Lindbergh's words:
Fear destroys the winged life.
And I would choose wings instead.