Many years ago I was in a car crash and broke several bones in my body. It meant that I was in a wheelchair and on crutches for many many months and, with repeated operations needed on one of my legs, crutches were my good friend for a long time!
One day, a few months after the final operation, I was walking with my now husband on a beach. It wasn’t a sandy beach but one made of beautiful foot sized stones. After more than two years of watching every footfall to protect my vulnerable leg, I was watching very carefully every placement of both feet on these wobbly stones. The beach is long and I’d walked for 30+ minutes like this before I was hit with a realisation. I hadn’t once looked at the sea. Or the cliffs. Or the birds. Or the amazing pine forest that met the cliff line. Or the beautiful man by my side. All I had seen was my own feet and a lot of stones.
I felt paralysed by that awareness. How could I look up, how could I do that with the limitation of my physicality? One wrong placement of either foot and my knee or ankle would react, swell, be painful and I’d be back on crutches for several days. And yet, what kind of walk was this if I couldn’t even look up. What kind of life was this if I couldn’t even look up?
My initial response was anger and grief. I was angry at having to walk on this stony beach instead of a smooth path, I was angry with my beloved for choosing this walk. I felt grief at the limitations of my body. As I stood there in anger, resentment and grief I realised that underneath all of this crashing-about emotion was fear; I was frightened of hurting myself again.
It was an ‘aha’ moment. I’ve always had a good relationship with fear. Fear doesn’t frighten me. I think of my fear as a very wise and protective friend so whenever I identify fear I reach my hand out to it and open my heart to it. Holding it close, I ask my fear a lot of questions until I understand its perspective. Fear is an amazing communicator when you sit with it and really listen to it.
As I stood on that beach talking with my fear I made a choice.
Looking up was worth more than protecting my leg.
Looking up was worth a few days of a sore leg and being on crutches IF that happened.
I looked up, called my courage to me and walked, one step at a time and those stones received my feet. I felt the ground beneath me holding me strong, holding me safe. And not because I willed it and planned it, but because it always is.
I can’t say that I have always felt safe, there have been times I have stumbled and felt that flash of fear. There have been times when I’ve fallen. There are still times when I am back on crutches, but only for a few days and the steps taken along the way show me that lifting my head up and walking my own path is always always ALWAYS worth it.
In your life, right now, today, what fears can you reach your hand out to and embrace? Your commitment to yourself is so vital for each and every one of us to thrive.
I wish for you that the ground always rise to meet your feet AND your dreams
P.S. I got married on that beach….a whole new path to walk!!