How does fear take hold? When does it grab at you? Where can you feel its tug? Can you feel it altering your sensibilities? Hard to imagine a time when fear did not dominate our headlines and lives, but even in the hold of fear I can remember a more fearless me. Standing up and demanding regardless of outcome. That late twenty-something me who seemed to defy gravity. Just reaching for it. Of course I can also remember a timid me too. A frozen and quiet me, creeping around high school, falling into black holes. But this today me, who has built a solid foundation on steady outcomes, this one now wakes in the still-dark dawn and has to talk herself into calmness through deep breathing, just to return to the school building yet another day; this me is struggling. They want us to arm kids with heavy shit, barricade our classroom doors, and teach them to strategize their way to safety despite the AK-15 aimed in their direction. Fear has entered the curriculum, but I suppose, as long as the NRA controls our lawmakers, I need to find my bravery.
As always I move through metaphor: As Without So Within. What’s my first step? Strap on downhill skis (first time in a decade) and send myself straight down the mountain. Well, after heading up first.
Seriously I was terrified; not of the lift, or of anything actual, but just putting myself up there again. Would I forget all I knew about this sport? Would my body remember to swish and turn, to carve and slide? Jeez, would I get through the process of renting gear, buying a ticket, queuing up for the lift, maneuvering the chair, and navigating the trails back down? Pushing myself out the door last Sunday, I did all of that. Yes, all of it. Eventually, smiling and laughing, I remembered what fun could be had on a slippery slope of ice and snow. Facing it. Is there another way if we are to continue living in this new and dangerous landscape of suicidal and angry white men ready to take out as many innocents as possible before turning their weapon on themselves? I have decided there really isn’t.
I don’t really want to face all of it, or lead my high school students into play-acting an escape from their own potential murders, but possibly this is better than herding them into victimhood. This facing it. This brave and crazy straight view into our dark world. Students demanding #enough. Predators on casting couches have been there for decades, but they’re being called out. Racism has festered for generations too, but we are rising up to name it, and vote it out. Complacency is done for once you decide to face it, take action, and step into this swirling complex world of varying viewpoints with signs up and voting booths bringing politicians with honest intent. #enough indeed.
Exhilarated after my day on the slopes, I thought, what else can one do when faced with uncontrollable fear but to face it head on. The list is now on. What other activities have I stopped doing, or adventures have I halted, or just all those no’s I’ve started to say? Today is about yes. Yes to standing up and walking out. Yes to shouting back, and getting the complacent around us to return to the voting booths. There’s no turning back. There is only forward. There is only facing it. Until the next moment when you stop and stare at that burst of sunshine flashing across a white snowy field and you know for certain that this is your time to stand and demand. #enough is enough