Wednesday, January 7, 2009

No Fears

My sister and her husband spent
New Year's Eve with us this year.
We all sat at the table with our favorite
bottle and toasted to our future.
To "health" and "happiness"
and all the other generic things
that most couples desire.

But we also lifted our glasses
and clinked them in unison -
toasting to "No Fears".

That one hit home.

It was only a few weeks ago that
my husband asked me out of the blue
what I would do different if I
could go back in time and live
those years over.

At first, I was tempted to say "nothing"-
(I have truly been blessed with
a perfect man, fantastic children, a nice home...)
But- then I said,
"If I had to do it all again,
I wouldn't be so afraid."

Maybe some people wouldn't relate.
But when I analyze my past,
I can see where my fears held me back.
I was always afraid of hurting someone
or getting hurt or making the wrong
I was afraid of failing- of criticism-
of having to eat crow.

I remember when I was about ten years old-
I wanted to be an artist.
Somehow my parents managed to afford
some oil paints and canvas to give me as a gift.

A still life artist had visited my school
and I still remember as clear as day
him setting up in the cafeteria corner-
painting the lights and shadows
on a cluster of grapes.
How cool!
I wanted to do that!

But you know what?
I was afraid of wasting my paint.
My fruit were transparent
and wispy.
The background was splotchy and thin.
But my mom
hung it over the couch anyway.

And I think those paints finally dried up
from the fact that I saved them
for "later".
"Later" never came because
I was afraid.

In high school I wanted so badly to write.
I got a position on the school paper,
but I was afraid to speak out-
to be bold-
to give it my all.
I melted into the background
and nothing more came of my
dreams of becoming a writer.

I wish I had rode on Ferris wheels
and roller coasters.
I wish I had tried out
for cheer leading
and student council
and not been afraid to
paint my walls cranberry
or put my couch on an angle.

I wish I had experimented
with cooking-
learned to play piano,
and wore that really neat
headband that I was afraid
would look ridiculous.

And eventually, my own fears
held back my children.
I was afraid to let them
ride their bikes past the yard,
attend overnight slumber parties,
ride horses and go carts
and go sledding in the snow.

So- this is to "No Fear".
I raise my glass
to a year of making things right.
Of facing forward
and not looking back.
Not caring if I fall on my face
or stumble in the darkness.
Here's to confidence
and adventure
and being who I am.

And here's
to using every freakin' drop of paint
in the tube.