At least once a week I get asked some version of, “What do you think of [insert]? Does it scare you?”
And pretty much every time my answer is, No.
No, I am not scared of that.
And the reason I am not scared of this or that is: I spend my days connecting with, holding space for, exploring life and its ups and downs, with real, live people. And real live people cannot be summed up in a sound bite, cannot be divided cleanly into groups or factions to be afraid of.
As someone who loves data about people, the best I can tell you is that what the data shows is that people are equal parts messy as hell and glorious as fuck. (Present company included.)
And so no. No I am not scared of a certain subset of people or some cold, impersonal data that looks to separate rather than connect.
But I am scared of something several times a day…
And that something is my own inadequacy.
Several times a day I am scared that I will not measure up to the weight of this work that we do. Several times a day I am scared that I will not be able to practice for the LTHJ Global team that which I teach. Several times a day I am afraid I will not be a good enough parent or lover, a good enough friend, or daughter, or neighbor.
Several times a day the grip of perfectionism, my personal achilles heel, threatens to entangle me, and pull me down.
Often have I spoken of my youngest little human (one of my two children) and the lessons they have taught me about standing in my strength. I speak of them near the end of my poem, #enlightenedAF.
Recently this little human, in an unexpected turn of events, has begun singing the bedtime songs instead of me. One they return to again and again is Anna’s song performed by Kristen Bell, “The Next Right Thing”… yes, from Frozen II.
A beautiful song about what to do with grief, depression, and despair, this song supported me at a particularly low point in my life as I navigated divorce and loss a few years ago. Now it takes on a new life in my body and psyche as my child seems to sing it to me as if they know: Mommy is questioning her ability to live her liberation. Mommy is scared to live so boldly.
If you ask me what I am scared of most these days, it is not what other people are doing. What I am scared of most is Dr. Maya Angelou’s quote that haunts me: “Once you know better, do better.”
I know what it takes to live liberated, to live awake, and it is hard. It is hard and tiring and requires one to constantly interrogate the recesses of their own mind, heart and body. It requires that one point the finger within, not without. It requires vigilance and sweat, when I might rather drown myself in the news, a streaming service, a drink, at the gym or at work.
And so what I fear most is not people who do not know better. I fear the temptation in myself to fall back to sleep, to take the easy path. I fear the dominant cultural urge within me that would make everyone else the problem, but never start with ‘I’.
As I complete another annual trip around this thing called life, here’s what I’ve learned:
- You are never as alone as your mind wants to tell you are: never.
- Avoiding death and living life are not the same thing. Learn to know the difference.
- My mistakes will not kill me, but my silence will.
At the end of Anna’s song, she reminds us to take one step at a time when it seems like all is lost. This has proven time and again to be invaluable advice when it comes to everything from leadership, to loving and parenting, to the practice of anti-racism.
Sometimes when you do not know what to do, or you are so afraid to make a mistake, just take one, next, step.
It hasn’t failed me yet.