Excerpt from the visionary fiction novel, Motorcycles, Madness & Miracles: A Badass Journey to Empowerment
On a sunny summer day some friends, their two children and I went on a nature hike in a local city park. The children bounded into the lead, and after a mile or so on the main trail, they came upon a less beaten path that they wanted to follow. After a short discussion about how their innocence makes them more in touch with their intuition, we all agreed to see what sort of adventure waited along this new route.
Glowing with pride, the children led the way, making sure to never get too far ahead. For the most part, the trail was easy to follow, and it was refreshing to see new landscape. Climbing over fallen trees, discovering a previously unknown pond, and using our imaginations about what might be living in a hole that disappeared deep into the earth — we were enjoying our nature experience.
After walking for a good while, I stated perhaps we should turn back and return to the park’s main area. One of the children replied, “If you think we should go back, then that means something wonderful is just ahead!”
Surprised, but willing to see if this was true, I said sure! We picked up the pace with an increase in excitement. Lo and behold, we came upon a small river, about 18 feet across. The water was moving along gently and there was a tree that had snapped but not totally disconnected. It fell at the perfect location so that it crossed the stream and lodged between two trees on the opposite side. A natural bridge! The bark was gone and it was approximately 2 feet wide — ideal for us to cross and explore the inviting scenery on the other side.
Without hesitation, the two kids hopped up on the log and walked over. Then, the dad went across, offering his hand to help his wife. Then, my friend offered to let me go next. I declined and said I would follow. Once she was safely on the far shore, I hopped up on the log and started to take a step, but was suddenly gripped by fear. Now, this confused me, because I don’t have a fear of heights and the bridge was certainly wide enough. I also consider myself to be both courageous and well-balanced, so I was puzzled at my body’s reaction. Yet, every time I tried to take a step, my legs started shaking uncontrollably. This irrational fear was so intense that the shaking of my legs was going to be the cause of my falling!
Backing up to where I could place a hand on a nearby tree, I steadied myself and began an internal dialogue, trying to understand where this fear was coming from. I had no clues, so offering silent reassurances, I commanded myself to buck up and cross that bridge! But, the moment I took my hand off the supporting tree, the legs shaking resumed in earnest, my stomach clenched, and try as I might, I could not get myself to take a single step.
I was forced to give up.
My friends were sympathetic and offered to assist me, but shame at my shortcoming made me lie and I told them I wanted to explore something that was on the side I was currently on, and that they should go ahead without me. Well, the three adults walked around a little on the far bank as if exploring their immediate surroundings without going too far, and I acted like I was doing the same on my side. The two children hopped back onto the bridge and returned with confusion on their faces about why I wasn’t joining them. To this, I mumbled something meaningless.
When the younger of the two boys stood in the spot where I had experienced my intense fear, he picked up on the energy and started to become afraid. I noticed and went over to him, explaining that he had no reason to fear because he had already accomplished the crossing; it was just that his sensitivity was enough to pick up on my residual energy. The father also witnessed his son’s reaction. Not wanting him to despair, he met him on the bridge and taking his hand, lead him away. Meanwhile, I waved my hands in the general area of the left-over anxiety in order to dissipate it. The father continued to encourage his son to play on the log until the boy’s confidence returned to full strength. Then, everyone came back to the side I was waiting on, and we all walked back to the park, and eventually to our cars. They were gracious in not pressing my cowardice.
Returning home, I realized my error in not accepting help from friends in the moment. Next time, I will lay pride by the side. By not taking their hand, I also blocked their gift of being able to help someone else in a time of struggle. Sigh. I sat with shame, which weakens the 3rd chakra, which is our place of will power. I resolved that in order to heal this newly created hole, I must return and cross that bridge over and back, thereby thoroughly erasing any fears that are within me. If I allowed one fear to take root, then others could follow, and that was not the way I intended to live.
With mind made up, I considered what I had on hand that would make my crossing easier. I decided to bring along a few bottles of essential oils designed to calm, give courage, and connect with the Earth. Then, I laced up my waterproof hiking boots and returned to the scene of my previous shortcoming.
The sun was about an hour from setting, so the shadows were long, but I had plenty of time to accomplish what I came to do. I sat on the ground and breathed in the essential oils until I felt fully confident and grounded. Then, I hopped up on the tree and gave a few jumps just to make sure it was still sturdy. Almost immediately, I could feel my legs grow nervous, so I shifted my weight from the back leg to the front, trying to determine just what was making them shake. It didn’t seem to make any difference and I remained dumbfounded.
Next, I tried to locate the origin of the fear. I diligently searched my memory for any time that I might have been in a similar situation. Nothing presented itself. In fact, I recalled stories from my mom about how I would walk along the top railing of a picket fence as a little girl, much to her dismay.
Returning to present time, I watched two squirrels chase each other around some trees. I smelled the clean scent of the woods. I listened to the sound of the laughing water, and then decided it was time to get a move on. I took my hand off the supporting tree and my heart began to pound wildly. I could literally, audibly hear it outside my chest. I focused on my breath and began to take slow, full inhalations and exhalations until I felt calmer — not completely calm, but enough to where I felt like I was a little more in control.
Then, I started off. One small sliding step, feeling the placement of my foot on the log, making sure it was secure, shifting my weight forward, dragging my rear foot to meet the lead. My legs were shaking, but scooting forward, a little at a time, I began to make progress. Up a little incline, over a knot in the tree that was a touch difficult to navigate, now past the knot, recognizing that the supporting tree was far beyond reach, moving further, heading out over the open water, establishing a rhythm of movement, not comfortable, but not doing too badly, slow and steady…. My focus was so intent on the log beneath my feet that I wasn’t sure how much further I had left to go. I stopped and looked up to gauge the distance to the other bank, but now that I halted, my legs started to tremble, and I realized I was in the very middle of the makeshift bridge over open water!
Because of the trembling of my legs, the log started to bounce up and down, which caused more fear, more shaking, and an increase in the bouncing! I tried to take a step forward but my leg was frozen and unwilling to respond. I could feel fear coming at me from all directions, so with faith I yelled out, “Universe, help! God, help me please!” Instantly, calm descended upon me and I took that opportunity to begin my slow shuffle again. Right foot forward, quick test of secure footing, rear foot to follow, repeat. I started making progress once again, step, shuffle, step, shuffle. I started feeling good as the far shore inched closer and closer. Then, when I was about two feet from the bank and thinking I could leap onto the shore, I saw both my boots slip off the log at the same time and SPLASH! I landed in the water on my feet, upright.
Ha! I couldn’t believe it! I had actually fallen in!
The water only came up to my knees, so it wasn’t anything major. And, I didn’t hurt myself in the fall, so I just gave a little laugh and walked up the bank, shaking my head. I recognized my mistake in losing focus, but I also observed the miracle of calmness that had enveloped me when I had called out to the Universe for help. I was amazed and grateful. It worked! There is a Great Mystery to hear my call! But I still had to get back to the other side….
Sitting on the bank for a little while, listening to the birds chirp until my heart slowed its pace, I heard a little voice in my head suggest that since I was already wet, I might as well walk through the water and get on home. That voice was not my friend. Impeccability of word matters, and it’s a foundation I refuse to let crumble. So, I placed my feet on the log to begin the return journey. Immediately, my legs started shaking.
Seriously?! I’ve done this; I knew the procedure. What the hell was wrong with my legs?! Plus, now that my boots were soaking, I could feel them slipping on the log and I knew I didn’t want to fall in a second time because then I’d see myself as a loser and no — not going there. I stepped off and considered possible solutions… then, it came to me: take off the boots. But — what if I slipped and landed on a rock? It would hurt something awful. Yet, the protection that the boots offered was getting in the way of feeling in control of my steps. Protection…or self-control…I decided to take off the boots and put my faith in myself and the Universe. With a boot in each hand for balance, I sent up a prayer to the Great Mystery for assistance and stepped forward.
With feet free of their false protection, I was able to grip the log much better than I had ever done with the hiking boots. Having a grip, I felt much more in control, and between my faith in the Universe watching out for me and my ability to feel what I was doing, I crossed back to the other side in minimal time. It was surprisingly easy without false protection! As I leapt onto the bank, I let out a whoop of joy! I had done it! I overcame that which had made me less than I wanted to be — woohoo!