I have to admit, I still feel a bit anxious when I’m getting ready to leave home. Leaving the familiar to fly off into the unknown always includes the appearance of my long time companions and now allies – Fear and Anxiety.
Fortunately I am deeply intimate with these two highly slippery dudes. Fear and Anxiety. Anxiety and Fear. My own dear Frick and Frack.
Once upon a time these two were the dominant force in my life. The unconscious, all pervasive ground I walked on day in and day out. The twins that curdled my creative exuberance, robbed my happiness, held me in bondage and kept me nearly housebound for years. They whispered incessantly in my ear that I would lose my way. Be in danger. Disaster would strike. I’d not make it back. This was the legacy of patterns, stories and beliefs – many of which began before I was even born – lived out and stored deep inside me.
Flashback – I’m hyperventilating mid-ocean.
Fear and Anxiety – those breath-robbing dudes – are siting on my chest. I’m squeezed into a tiny seat in middle of the last row of a packed jumbo jet on a fifteen hour flight to Hong Kong. By myself.
At that moment I am doing everything I can to keep from coming loudly, physically and completely unravelled as I think about being suspended midair above thousands and thousands of miles of deep, dark and empty ocean. Which at that time was the stuff of my worst nightmares. The deep. Dark. Enormous. Endless. Ocean.
What the hell had I been thinking when I said, “Yes” to this almost three week trip to the other side of the world?
In between panic attacks in the dark, while everyone else was sleeping – I was having waking nightmares about landing at my final destination – Taiwan – and getting lost in that ginormous, chaotic city – not being able to speak, understand or read the language. On a busy street. All alone.
Which, of course – I did.
I’d taken the directions of my friend, who’d travelled there before several times, about which bus stop to get off at to get to the hotel where I was meeting my group in a few days.
I did NOT listen to my own inner knowing and discernment. I did not listen to the unfriendly woman behind the window I bought the bus ticket from. I overrode them both.
Even though her advice felt a bit off, I trusted my friend – because I viewed her as an authority. Someone who knew better than I.
I trusted her more than I trusted myself. More than my own inner knowing.
I got off at the wrong stop, large and unwieldy suitcases in hand on a busy street in Taiwan – nothing that looked like a hotel in site.
It was loud. It was chaotic. The signs were in Chinese. There were people hurrying everywhere. I did not comprehend a single word. Everything was alien.
I was terrified. Out of my body. In panic.
I was living my worst fear.
I looked around and there was another Caucasian woman – the only Caucasian in sight – who’d gotten off the bus just in front of me. With relief, I asked her if she could help me locate my hotel. She sneered and with a heavy accent made a rude remark about stupid, arrogant Americans and turned away. Crap. Now I wasn’t just afraid- I felt ashamed as well.
There I stood– suitcases pilled around me.
I took some deep, deliberate breaths. I began chanting a calming mantra under my breath. I prayed.
Then a miracle happened.
An older Taiwanese man stepped forward.
He had a calm, quiet smile and inquiring eyes. He began to serenely gesture to me that he wanted to put my bags in the trunk of his unmarked taxi – presumably to take me to wherever I needed to go. I said in English the name of my hotel with a question. He kept quietly smiling, eyes calm and open inviting me to trust him. Never speaking.
I took a leap of faith. Said, “Yes.” and got in the backset of his well-kept car.
As soon as we began moving into heavy traffic I started to doubt myself. The craziness of getting in this man’s car that was maroon not yellow. Neither of us understanding each other… and what the hell was I thinking anyway?
Well. the truth is I wasn’t – thinking that is. I was using my heart’s knowing. I was saying yes to the next seemingly appropriate step that made me feel lighter. Better. Made sense. I was on an adventure lead by my inner wise self – the part of me that just knows what it knows.
I really had no idea where this man was taking me or where I was geographically at that moment. I continued to breathe, chant and fervently pray. I kept saying I’m ok. I’m ok. I decided to trust I was in good hands.
I have no idea what that lovely and intelligent gentleman thought of the terrified American in his backseat mumbling to herself. His eyes and mine met a few times as he drove. He seemed kind, wise and peaceful, as if it happened all the time. And who knows maybe it did.
He turned a few corners and in less than five minutes we pulled into another large hotel’s entry – not mine. He jumped out and spoke quickly to the very tall, smiling young man in uniform at the curb.
With a beautiful smile the young Doorman leaned down and motioned for me to open my window. Once there was no glass between us, he asked me where it was I wished to go. I told him and he relayed it to my driver, who smiled and bowed his head in acknowledgement. Then the young man graciously wrote the name and address of the hotel I was staying at in Chinese characters and phonetically in Mandarin so I would have it if I needed it again. What kindness.
As I sat in the back seat on my way to my hotel – I realized that I had just lived through one of my worst fears. Operative word – lived through. I was relieved. Elated. Grateful. Triumphant. And I had just begun my three week adventure. How wonderful to get that out of the way first thing!
Another five minutes and we were pulling up in front of my hotel.
That trip is now many years in the past. My journey to Taiwan was a once in a lifetime adventure. An opportunity that could and would never come around again.
Since then I have faced many fears. Had many adventures. Many conversations and pow-wows with Fear and Anxiety.
Here’s what I know at this juncture…
I might not know exactly where I am right this moment – AND – I always know how to get where I am going. I am never, ever, ever lost. I am always safe. I am always taken care of. Things always work out well for me.
Every single one of us has an inner GPS system. It is connected directly to your own Soul’s knowing.
Your inner GPS always knows where you are going and exactly how to get there. Even when you might not consciously have a clue.
If you listen to someone else – and believe them above your own quiet, inner knowing when they tell you –
How to get there.
Who you are.
What should matter to you.
What the right thing to do is.
Then you’re probably going to feel lost for a time. There are detours. Cul-de-sacs. Shiny mirages of roadside attractions ahead.
If you pay attention – you will always get back on track.
At the end of the day you cannot really get it wrong. Because this is how we all learn.
We learn by turning away from what is true. We learn to listen to and trust our deeper knowings by NOT listening – then paying attention to what the results are.
For most if us the connection to our inner GPS gets covered up by old outworn/and or erroneous understandings. It is useful to do our best to clear them up, let them go and update our reference points so we are more current.
Embrace the freedom to explore and follow our joy.
Fear and Anxiety still come along with me, today. They simply do not get to run the show anymore.
When they show up – I say hello and understand that they are here to let me know I’m once again headed into new territory. Something that’s fresh, creative and unknown is on its way.
I know that when I take a leap into the unknown with joy and certainty – Doubt regularly follows with Fear and Anxiety close behind. This is simply the way of things. Especially if I am tired. This however does not mean I have to follow them.
Today I’ve learned to get quiet. Become still. Listen more closely to my own inner GPS. Trust myself. Trust my Soul. Trust the Universe.
Today I recognize – only I know who I am and how to get to where I need to be next.
Even when I find myself mid-leap shaking my head and saying, “What WAS I thinking?