There is a flock of Canada geese living on the grounds of the college where I work. They are peaceful creatures unless you cross them or they feel threatened. Then they can be pretty scary when they approach you in confrontation. Otherwise we all live in harmony on the campus. Geese mate for life. It’s beautiful to watch a couple walk majestically across the greens to the buildings were they have built their nests. This past week we were witness to the inevitable parenting moment of every bird. Nudging their goslings out of the nest. In this case the fall from the nest was not on soft grass but on a concrete walk below. There were some heart stopping moments as we watched each gosling jump down. But despite the hard landing, each chick got up, shook themselves and waddled away.
What these geese represent to me is strength and loyalty and so much trust. They also have awesome parenting skills. I think about when my husband and I met so many years ago and settled to build our nest and birth our own little goslings. We were as happy and content as these families of geese seem to be. But I confess I was not as brave as those geese when it came to nudging my two out of the nest.
It’s not because they were not ready, no. In fact they were most likely ready way before I ever was. But I had so much fear. That fear was too big for me to contain at times although I tried to fight it with all of my might. At the time I didn’t get that there were so many things in life that were out of my control. I still have moments when I think I’m in control although that’s only magical thinking. I have no control over anything but myself.
It’s so hard to let go, to have that trust, to take that leap. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe my two little ones had the strength and smarts to handle the world, it was that I didn’t believe the rest of the world would treat them like I would. And yet, that’s not the way of any world. I was just so scared to nudge them out of the safe, nurturing nest I had created. I couldn’t see that at times they felt stifled.
Fear is so confining. It can stop you in your tracks and hold you from taking the next step forward. It can freeze your heart, confuse your mind, stutter your words. Fear can grow as huge and overpowering as you let it. Fear makes you lie and hide and seriously challenge everything you thought was true. There is so much fear in the world today stirred up by hate and hateful acts. It is hard to find the silver lining. I held onto so much fear for so long worrying about my children out in the world. But it’s better now. I’m better now because I realize I have to have faith. I have to believe they have the tools to navigate the big, bad, beautiful world. And make mistakes. And be scared themselves because that’s the only way we learn to live. Faith feels so good sometimes. It feels like…well…letting go.
I wasn’t always such a scaredy cat. Or at least I don’t think I was. There were many times I stepped out of my comfort zone. When I moved by myself to Los Angeles to work in film. When I went back to school to get my degree after I had my babies. When I faced a cancer diagnosis and a daunting 8 months of chemotherapy and radiation. I remember times I found myself standing fearless with arms flung open, ready to take on the world. My brother once reminded me I was no shrinking violet. And sometimes having fear is the one thing that pulls you back from from the brink of a huge mistake. Fear can be a good thing then.
My only regret is if I have passed on my fears, my doubts, my insecurities to my two children. If my angst has nurtured their own fears so they would question themselves and their decisions. Do I have another fear to ruminate over? When those thoughts appear, I vow to show myself the same courtesy I gave my own parents. That we did the best we could with what we had. Hindsight is truly 20/20. Will my children raise theirs the same way? Most likely not, nor should they. Like my beloved personal symbol, the Lotus flower, we all have to grow through some serious mud to bloom in our own unique way. It is a personal journey.
Do I still have fear? I think I always will. But I am able to keep it at bay and move forward with more faith then fear. And I am able to nudge my babes and say fly, my beautiful chicks, fly. Life is so worth it.