Tiny Revolutions №107: Becoming Unkillable
+ a letter to fear
Last year was a tipping point for me in that I discovered that I could no longer fully function without reading glasses. It had been a few years since I bought my first pair, but I’d been getting away with only using them here and there. And then it was like a switch flipped and I was pulling them out all the time. It was annoying but life moved on, and I spent a little too much time on the internet searching for the perfect reading glasses.
But apparently I had feelings about the whole thing. I’ve been in Costa Rica for the last two weeks for a retreat Foster is hosting down here, and for part of it I stayed in an Airbnb with my dear friend and colleague,.
As we were telling friends about the experience of being housemates, Minnow said, “Oh, Sara with the reading glasses is a whole vibe.” And I thought, wait, what? He then proceeded to remind me of how *pissed* I am about the whole thing. Apparently my move is try to do something without the readers (read Google map directions, unlock the key box for the door, etc.), realize I can’t, and then curse a lot as I fumble around and put them on.
It was definitely one of those moments where I was like damn, you got me. It was also a lightbulb because until right then I didn’t realize how much I’d been fighting my experience of needing reading glasses. My mind has not caught up with my body on this front – it’s clinging to the Sara who could seamlessly exist in the tropics without needing to remove her sunglasses to replace them with reading glasses every goddamn time I need to check something on my phone. Sigh. Aging.
It had me thinking of all the various ways we fight our experience in general, and how exhausting it is. The thing that springs to mind for me here is humidity. I grew up in the Southeast (mostly Kentucky and Georgia), and intense humidity is just part of the deal. And still I hated it so much. To be fair I think a lot of people in hot, humid climates feel this way. Maybe even most. We encase ourselves in air conditioning and lead indoors lives during the hottest months, but even when we do hang out outside, we complain about how hot it is. I was the absolute worst about this. I hated how humidity made me feel — sticky, ornery, bloated, stinky, etc. — and it could really impact my day and make me avoid doing things I wanted to do. I have a vivid memory of my first visit to California, that blessed land of the semi-arid climate. It was like, whoa, you can live in warm weather without sweating profusely? Sign me up.
If you’ve been following along here you might know that I spent 18 years living in LA, where humidity became a distant memory. Coincidentally, it was during my time in LA that I learned about how important it is to stop fighting my experience and just accept whatever is happening. Which might entail reading glasses. Or 95% humidity in 95 degree heat. Not always easy, but definitely doable.
At the Foster retreat, we spent a few days feeling into whatever we’re currently experiencing, wondering about, considering, etc. One of those things for me was the reading glasses issue. But when I spent some time with it, I realized the anger was a thin veneer for some fears that have arisen in conjunction with me needing them. Fears of getting older, of having to rely on more things, more PEOPLE, etc. A lot to unpack there that I am not going to unpack right now, but I did write a letter to fear that I thought I’d share.
Just like anger, you are a sign. Just like anger, you are here to protect me. Just like anger, you need to be seen. Laid out in the sunlight and looked at directly, openly, without *fear* that I can’t bear it. I can bear it and in fact I sit with you all the time, whether I acknowledge you or not. You are here and you belong.
I’ve been harboring this belief unconsciously that with enough energy I can just bust through you. Sometimes that works. Actually, mostly it works. But now I’m in a part of my life where I have to be more conscious about my energy, and if I spent it all on busting through, I’m spent afterwards. So I have to be more gentle when the moment doesn’t allow for busting through.
I can look at you earnestly and say that I see you but I also see a wider perspective that you don’t see and that’s why I can’t allow you to be the driver. But I can also promise you that I see you and I know what you are trying to protect me from, and I won’t lose sight of it. I won’t always get it right in my efforts – sometimes the thing you are trying to protect me from will happen, but that’s OK. I can always try again. I will always try again. And together we will learn what dangers are real and what are merely illusions that we will see through.
Because we are together in a dance, me and you. The truth is I need you and I’m tired of ignoring you. You limit me at times but you also protect me. You belong here. This world is many wonderful things but it is not always safe, and you help me navigate that reality. I am grateful to you, my fear, for your place in the constellation of emotions that lives inside me. You alert me to opportunities and paths worth exploring, because sometimes you are an invitation. Maybe you always have been, but it’s only now that I’m fully seeing it.
I love you, my fear. Thank you for being here.
The Fire Inside Workshop #2!
Thanks to all of you who came out for my first workshop for The Fire Inside, my program for women who want to cultivate their inner flame! It was great seeing so many familiar and new faces, and getting a chance to talk publicly about this work.
I am hosting another one next Thursday, Feb 8, at 3:00 p.m. EST.
It’s free and you can register here.
I had the chance to appear on the excellently named Grief & Pizza, a podcast with Marie Poulin and Benjamin Borowski about the highs and lows at the intersection of business and emotional well-being. (Here’s a little video snippet of me talking about being a classic try-er while wearing my, ahem, readers.)
The episode is called “Becoming Unkillable” and you can listen here — lots of talk about resilience and experimentation and radical self-acceptance. I also highly recommend the episode with Joe Hudson of Art of Accomplishment. A great listen.
Really being present with someone doesn’t have much to do with what you think about them. It has to do with flow and the space you have with them at that moment. From there, so many things can emerge that neither of you could have known.
Speaking of, he’s a talented writer who is making sense of his relationship to God and religion since leaving the reformed Christian church a few years ago. Here’s a great post he wrote recently about meditation, or “contemplation,” as he practices it.
That’s all for me for now. Thanks for reading, as ever.
p.s. Tiny Revolutions is free to read but if you’d like to support my work, please share this with someone who’d appreciate it, or just like this post!