Monday, March 2, 2009

The Alligator Under the Surface

Do you ever have one of those mornings when everything seems ironic, like you are the central character in a movie full of near-misses and uncanny coincidences and side comments made by other characters that seem meaningless but are actually really significant, and which all culminate in some big life lesson at the end that will usually result in said central character moving to a large metropolitan area to persue some romantic dream?

Well, I am not planning to move anytime soon but the rest pretty much summed up my morning.

I woke up late, saw 4:55 on the clock, said something unladylike, and broke the land-speed record for getting from pillow to steering wheel and on the way to the gym. As I drove and wondered if my hair looked even remotely human, my thoughts wandered to the dream I was in the middle of when my internal alarm clock woke me. I was in a river, on one of those plastic pool rafts, with my legs in the water, thinking about how brave I was for doing this because, in real life, I am afraid of water where I can't see what's beneath me. Growing up around swamps, bayous, rivers, and a giant polluted lake, I am too familiar with what creatures lurk below the surface to be one of those people who jump off of a pontoon boat into an innertube with abandon. In classic control-freak style, I want to know exactly what is slithering my way and swimming around me.

So anyway, I'm in this water and I see an alligator poke his head up from the water and look at me. He swims past me and climbs onto the bank and sits in the sun. And in my dream, I think to myself, "wow, that was really scary and I didn't freak out."

And that's when I woke up and realized I was late.

It wasn't until 45 minutes later, when I was thanking God that it wasn't a box-jump day, that the concept of fear came up again. It was during a discussion among my friends of Heather's Hilarious Gym Mishaps, recounting the time I missed the box and sent the pieces flying, landing in the middle bruised and belwildered. I commented that I had been so afraid of that happening and that ever since, I was even more reluctant to jump on that box because I knew just how easy it was to get hurt. Ten minutes later, Awesome was correcting my form on some squats and telling me, "I can see your fear with trusting your hamstrings to support you because you lean forward, causing your knees overcompensate and buckle, ruining your form." There was that word again: fear.

We had reached the point in the movie where the central character begins to suspect that something is up.

I thought about that alligator again, and what it might represent. It didn't take long to figure out that I was getting psyched out with the fear of disappointing myself. I've failed before, and I know how painful it is. Who wants to repeat that experience? I've been disappointed, crushed, embarrassed, and defeated. They all pretty much sucked. Why would I want to do that again?

We've reached the point in the movie where everyone rolls their eyes at the predictable after-school special life lesson: I do it again because even though I have failed, I've also gotten over it. I'll bruise my calves on that bench again, I'll fall on my butt on the squat press again, and I'll get over it each time because that is just part of it.

But one part of my dream nagged at me - the part where I didn't freak out. Could it possibly mean that I've getting over my fear? Maybe I am reading too much into this, but I'm choosing to believe that the fact that I calmly watched that alligator lazily climb out of the water and onto the sand means that I am getting a lot better at patiently waiting for my fear of failure to move aside so I can get on with what I was doing. I'm at a turning point in this deal, and I'm peeking around the corner to see what I'm jumping into. I think I am ready to jump.

But I'm still not jumping off a pontoon boat into an inner tube.

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