The Reluctant Surfer — Poem by Joel F

LIFE IS LIKE AN OCEAN

Today I’m giving credit where credit is due by posting about several other blog posts I’ve read recently. I’ll begin with a poem I read this morning: The Reluctant Surfer, written by blogger Joel F (joysofjoel.com). He talks of the need to get out there and brave the waves, both in surfing and in life. His thoughts really encouraged me and I see they’ve inspired over 200 other people as well. I thought you might like to check it out, too.

Click here to read this poem.

Advertisements

We’ll Never Surrender —Maybe

The Word Press daily prompt word today is doubt. Curious, I picked up my book of quotes, Words of Wisdom, and found this gem:

“The greatest quality of leadership is the ability to hide your panic from the others.”

business-peopleI hope leaders don’t go around in secret panic, but we know that every undertaking has the possibility of failure. A good leader won’t rattle on about his misgivings and the possibility of impending disaster. He weighs his options, decides on a course, and rallies the troops.

As Winston Churchill once did with his rousing speech:
“We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

He didn’t say:
We shall try to defend our island as best we can and hold out as long as we can, though it’s going to be a pretty tough go. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender until we have to.

Or do you all think we should rather give in now already? After all, we may not win. The enemy army is pretty strong, you know, and well organized. They may defeat our army, overrun our island and slaughter us all. But still, I think we should do our best to repel them — or would we be better off to wave the white flag and avoid all that bloodshed?

Not very inspiring.

How often in our day-to-day lives don’t we need people with courage and confidence? The following incident came to mind:

The teen son of a friend was doing some quick welding one day and a sliver of metal landed in his eye. My friend drove him to the medical clinic, then held her breath as the doctor took a razor-sharp blade and scraped the surface of the boy’s eyeball to dislodge the sliver.

She trembled, knowing one slip of that blade could cause permanent damage, but seeing the doctor’s confidence and steady hand gave her courage. A moment later the sliver was removed. My friend sighed with relief as she and her son left the office, prescription for antibiotic drops in hand.

Imagine yourself in that situation. How confident would you feel with a nervous doctor dithering away as he examined your child’s eye? Maybe he’d say, “Hmm… I’m not sure if I can get this out. I’ll give it a shot, but one slip of my blade and I’d slice his eyeball. I hope that won’t happen, because then infection might set in and he’d be blind in that eye for the rest of his life. I trust I can hold my hand steady enough, but I get a bit shaky when I’m tense, you see.”

Then he picks up the blade. Would you let him have a go at the child’s eye?

Granted, there’s the old “Look before you leap” advice. Yet prudence — thinking the matter through before acting — is a different species than the debilitating worm of doubt.

When Fear Make You Sweat

arches

Image c. by Dale Rogerson

Esther peered down the narrow hallway. A tunnel, almost, with its arches closing over her head. “We have to go through there?”

“Yes…if we want to see the rest of the art gallery,” their guide replied, his quiet sniff betraying his view of uncooperative tourists.

Like a snobby English butler, Esther thought. Well, she couldn’t help it. She was sweating now, terror almost suffocating her as she eyed the passage. Against it stood the fear of being left on this side all alone. The struggle in her mind paralyzed her.

“Let’s proceed, everyone.” The guide’s tone forbade any dissension.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Just looking at a picture like this makes me shiver. Can you guess why? 🙂
100-word story written  for Friday Fictioneers  This is a great exercise in making every word count!

The Woes We Dread

In the Grip of Reality

Patient to psychiatrist: My friends tell me I need help overcoming my unreasonable fear, so I’ve come to you.

Shrink: So what exactly is your fear, Mr Messer?

Patient: I’m afraid I’m going to die.

Shrink: But you’re still a young man. What makes you think you’re going to die?

Patient: Because I’m human and all humans die, right? They have since the world began. Which means sooner or later it’s bound to happen to me, too. Sounds quite reasonable to me — and I’m scared.

Shrink: Ah, yes. We definitely have to take a look at this.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tomorrow’s Troubles

Some of your hurts you have cured
and the sharpest you still have survived,
but what torments of grief you endured
from evils which never arrived!

—Author Unknown

It May Never Come to Pass

Our daily prompt this morning asks how my life would be different if I had no fear. Ah! Now here’s a question my analytical mind can really chew on.

One angle:
If I had no fear of people totally avoiding me, I could be totally selfish and rude. I could be greedy and gluttonous. But alas! If I eat whatever I want whenever I want today, I fear I’ll be a 250 lb lump rolling around in a wheel chair without a muscle — or a friend — to my name some years hence.

If I had no fear of ever having to give an account of my life I could simply ignore all my responsibilities, move into the Public Library and become their #1 bookworm, devouring novels every day. (And become a 250-lb lump rolling around in a wheelchair without a muscle to my name some years hence.)

If I had no fear of germs, or living in a despicable mess and/or dying of food poisoning, I may never bother to clean house. (Well, maybe for a few days.)

Sometimes bad things happen to people: unavoidable illness; drug side effects; accidents; whatever. My heart goes out to people who find themselves where they would never be if they had any choice. I had a good friend who was diagnoses as bi-polar and put on drugs for that; in a year she went from a size four to a size 16. (Thankfully, once balanced, she recovered her great personality.) It’s another matter if I bring these woes on myself by being careless, sloppy, heartless or self-centered. Something to fear. A healthy fear does offer motivation.

Another angle:
I’m terrified of sharks with their huge teeth. I’m not going on an ocean cruise anytime soon, just in case. If I weren’t terrified of sharks, I wouldn’t be going on an ocean cruise anyway, because I fear bankruptcy. (Which is why I also fear to blow all my money on any other luxury.)

And on a different, realistic level, I’m afraid of growing older with the attendant infirmities and restrictions. I’m afraid of dementia. I’m afraid of dying, of either of us being widowed, of being unable to support myself either physically or financially. I know these things are unavoidable; they WILL indeed be real in our lives at some point. To what extent no one can say.

I also fear the possibility that our country may be taken over and ruled by a charismatic tyrant, intolerant religious extremists, or criminal organizations. Or that lax law enforcement and corruption will give rise to vigilantes who decide on their own who needs be exterminated. It’s not impossible.

I have to look above these fears or they will petrify me. Sometimes we simply must ignore those fears buzzing around us like flies waiting to land.

Sometimes I need to grab a Divine Flyswatter:

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.” Isaiah 46:1-5

Another niggling fear:
I was delighted when I called up this blog and was actually able to get here! Based on my lack of success this past week — watching my browser spin and spin to no avail — I’m fearing that very soon I won’t be able to access this site again. Then what?

In that eventuality, you’ll find me blogging at Swallow in the Wind, my poetry blog.

As to fear of disaster or emotional turmoil, I’ll address that with this poem I wrote last summer: It Only Comes to Pass

Fear Loses Its Grip

Afraid of the Dark–Part B

His car was parked in an unfamiliar lot and I was sitting inside. I was waiting for him to come back and staring around at this corner of the city unknown to me. He’d told me I should just sit here, that he had something to take care of; he’d only be a couple of minutes. I had no reason to doubt him. So I sat patiently, trying to guess where we were.

It seemed this was a parking lot of sorts, well illuminated with glaring streetlights. I wasn’t afraid, rather confused about this strange stop he was making. Bewildered even. Why had he brought me here? He said he was taking me to his place, but as near as I could tell we’d gone in a completely different direction.

“Will you babysit my kids tonight?”

My parents and I lived at 417 Ave F South at the time. For a time we had as next-door neighbors the Paquins, a young Metis couple with several small children. The young mother looked after my little sister Rosie when I was in school, or sometimes they would go out for the evening and I would be asked to babysit their children. Easy job; often the kids were in bed before their parents left.

The Paquins moved away after a year or so, to somewhere around the 1100 block of Ave L South. Then one day after school  the husband called and asked me if I would come and babysit their children. Sure. No problem. My parents were going out that evening and I had nothing else to do, so why not earn a couple of dollars. I was nine years old; I could handle it.

He said he’d pick me up around 7 pm. “Okay.”

If you don’t know Saskatoon, Sask, suffice it to say that their new home was south and west of where I lived. Thus I expected when he picked me up we would head in that direction. But we didn’t. He rather headed east toward the downtown area. Before long he stopped at this place, a building with this parking lot, where he stopped and left the car, saying he’d be back.

So there I sat, in the dark looking around and at the overhead street lights, wondering what on earth we were doing there. Surprised, bewildered, confused.

I sat there alone for about five minutes before he came back. When he got back to the car, instead of getting in and taking me to his place, he told me to come with him. This had me even more confused, but I did as I was told.

He led me into a sparsely furnished room where there was only a bed and a dresser. I stepped inside and looked around, wondering what on earth this was all about. Then he shut the door. (In retrospect, it was probably a cheap hotel or rooming house where a person could rent a room for a short time.)

As I said, there was a bed. After standing there a minute he started to tell me about this game he wanted to play, where I’d get on the bed and he’d get on top of me. I’m sure my eyes popped open at the idea of this odd “game” and I started to be afraid. I may have been totally clueless, but to me this didn’t sound like a fun game at all.

A lot of girls may have caught on a lot sooner — especially today’s street-proofed girls — and probably told him in no uncertain terms where to get off. But I was a real wimp back then; also, we were always to listen to our elders. My Mom had said almost nothing about sexual issues — certainly nothing in the line of warning. However, I was feeling serious fear over this strange unknown situation, which led me to do the most logical thing. I started to cry.

Thanks Be!

I believe to this day that God reached down and turned his mind around. Perhaps his conscience reminded him that this was so wrong — and it might not be the piece of cake he’d initially thought. Maybe it pointed out to him that ten years is a long time to spend behind bars for one foolish prank. And what about his wife and children.

I don’t know exactly how God worked in my favor that night, but really, I was completely at this man’s mercy. He could have done anything to me — and I never would have revealed it to a soul. (I’m sure glad he didn’t know that!)

Finally the man said, “Come on,” and led me back to his car. We got in and he drove me, not to his home, but back to my own. By now I realized this babysitting thing was all a hoax. He walked me to the door of my house, maybe to see if my folks were home and he was in trouble plenty?

But my parents were still away; the house was dark and empty. Then he held up two quarters, offering them to me so that I wouldn’t tell my parents.

Two quarters! For what he’d put me through? Oh, was I mad! With an angry slap I knocked the coins out of his fingers. They fell on the floor somewhere and I went into the house.

I never saw him again, and I never did tell my parents. I didn’t expect any sympathy from them; I was afraid my Dad would be angry and scold me for being so stupid as to get into such a situation. Even if the very worst had happened to me that night I never would have told my parents. I was more afraid of my dad than anyone else.

But as an adult, when I’ve thought back to that situation, I could picture that neighbor spending the next few days antsy and sweating, waiting for the cops to show up and question him about what happened that night.

So I was Mad, but Not Damaged, Right?

Yes, I remembered the incident clearly and I came away from it with a certain anger, but I never thought it had done me any lasting harm. After all, nothing really happened.

But that night in Montréal, as I looked out the kitchen window at those streetlights and this scene in the parking lot flashed back into my head. And this small voice said very clearly, “That’s why you’re afraid.”

Not afraid because of what didn’t happen, but that bewildered, confused, fearful feeling had left its mark in my mind. The young tree wasn’t broken or ruined but it was kinked by this incident.

And probably the two incidents, the one involving my neighbor and the one involving the predator who followed me that dark night on the same street, eventually merged into one terror.

I’ve learned that God isn’t only a psychiatrist who analyzes your problem and tells you exactly what has caused it and why you feel the way you do. He’s the Great Physician for damaged souls. The Healer. That evening in Montréal, when He revealed to me where my problem started, He also took it away.

I can’t describe the beautiful freedom I felt when God dealt with this chronic fear, this baggage I’d been carrying all those years, living with it because it was simply part of who I was. Like a load of bricks on your back that suddenly turns to dust and blows away, so it was gone! A week later I marveled even more as I walked home from our friends’ house, about five blocks in the dark, at 11pm and didn’t feel the slightest trace of fear.

Yes, I’m still prudent and don’t expose myself to unnecessary danger. Yes, I still look in the back of my car before I get in. But that heart-stopping, paralyzing fear has never come back.