Today is Independence Day. And without over-cheese-ifying the metaphor, this past week marked my independence from one of my biggest fears.
3 weeks ago, I got married. That part was actually pretty easy.
Our honeymoon, however, marked the first time I was going to leave the country. I’d always wanted to travel. Quite a bit. But because of commitments or lack of funds, it had never happened.
But thanks to wedding cash, this was happening. We booked our tickets to both Italy and Greece, and I couldn’t be more excited.
And utterly terrified.
It uncovered one of my biggest fears; that I would be in a place and not know how to communicate. Would I miss flights because I couldn’t read the Departures board? Would I get arrested and not know what to do? Or somehow would my lack of lingual skills would land me in a ditch somewhere, and I would die a slow, painful, ignorant American death?
Of course, this was all nonsense. We just had two amazing weeks in two of the most beautiful countries on the planet. And if I’m dying of anything, it’s hardened arteries. (Man, did we eat a lot of cheese.)
So, it caused me to back up and look at WHY these fears surfaced for me. I think it’s normal for someone to want to feel prepared in unfamiliar circumstances, and this was the first time I’d really left my own soil, let alone been in a place where they spoke a different language.
But digging deeper, it reminded me just how much control I need sometimes. I come from a family of overpreparers and overcommunicators. I like to know what I’m getting into so I that I don’t ever feel like I can’t handle everything.
That’s it, though…you are never really 100% in control of your situation. And the times on this trip when I tried to make sure we were on time, in the right place, properly packed…were the times when I felt the least present and in the moment.
But when I was able to just let go, look around, and really be there, THOSE were the times when I just felt connected and plugged in to the moment. Not only that, but I was able to truly appreciate not what felt familiar and easy, but what was different. Maybe it was the challenge of surmounting the scary parts, but by the end I really did feel at ease and comfortable…even though I didn’t necessarily know what lay ahead.
My wife has done this quite a bit, and she told me at the beginning that part of the fun is throwing yourself in the fire and seeing what you’re made of. She was right.