66 & Fearless
Hardly any time to write a post this week. I’m spending nearly every non-working hour with my newfound hero. My mother.
I’ve written about being fearless before. And “fearless” is not a word I would have previously used to describe the woman that gave birth to me. I’ve gone much of my life hearing from her that I should be careful. Careful who I associate with, of where I travel, of what I eat. How it terrifies her and drives her batty that this black sheep of the family seems to find himself in some shady locales. Or in places like Cuba. Or eating scorpion. Or flying a paraglider into some power lines.
Don’t ruffle anyone’s feathers; stay behind the scenes and keep quiet; be “normal” so that you don’t attract too much attention; play it safe and don’t take any unnecessary risks.
Fearful is how I would have described her. Far from fearless. And I was wrong.
I’ve lived in Oregon for over four years now and had pretty much come to terms with the fact that mom would probably never make it out this way. She has never traveled anywhere outside of the few Midwest states that she’s resided in during her lifetime. No warm, sunny vacation getaways. No Grand Canyon. No foreign lands. Well, does crossing the border to go shopping in Canada count?
Being reminded regularly of all of her travel worries, I’ve often joked that she believes that the Transportation Security Administration has been on-duty all these years for the sole purpose of one day getting to harass her– a little ol’ farm girl from Indiana. That (which really isn’t all that far from her perception of the situation), along with the hassle of organizing an assortment of 3-oz. liquids, and trusting a big chunk of moving metal parts and wires to stay aloft in the sky, means that there’s no getting the woman onto an airplane. It’ll never happen. But at 66 years young, my mother- nervous as she also was about solo train travel- hopped aboard the Amtrak Empire Builder and made the two-and-a-half day trek across the US!
It simply blows my mind that she’s here. At her age (and degree of stubbornness), many people would allow the fear of the unknown to just remain paralyzing to them. No reason to start changing at this stage in the game. But in only the few days that she’s been here so far, I’ve witnessed her ‘fear of the unknown’ morph into ‘kid in a candy store’ excitement! Back home, her town of less than 7,000 doesn’t have a Starbucks. Or an IHOP. She’s never before seen either. These are places one only gets teased by in delicious looking television commercials. When shopping for household supplies or birthday presents, K-Mart, WalMart and Walgreen’s are among the best [and few] options. Way up north where she’s at, there are no malls full of Borders, Aeropostale, The Mac Store and Hot Topic. She’s never seen an ocean before. Nor an actual mountain. It’s suddenly apparent that what we used to call a “mountain” in the Midwest is rather embarrassing!
* Note: highest elevation in the entire state of Wisconsin . . . 1,951.5 ft.
Everything here is new to her; she’s having the time of her life. And it’s all because she decided to stop waiting around, stop watching life pass her by and, perhaps most importantly, stop letting fear keep her trapped in a little shell any longer.
Spending the last couple of days with my mother has been very inspiring to me. Talk about making a serious 180. Some would argue that “fearless” isn’t exactly the right word. Fearlessness essentially implies an enlightened, utopian state in which we are scared of nothing. Not of spiders. Nor public speaking, clowns or dying. But each time that you stand up to yet another fear, and refuse to allow it to make your decisions, you certainly get a bit closer. As elusive and impossible as it may be, striving for it might also bring otherwise unexpected benefits. Perhaps growth? Success?
If my dear old mom can do it, anybody can. She’s my hero. Love you, mom!
Have a hero that you’ve seen conquer fear?
Please share in a comment below!