The Icy Bridge
August 30, 2012 § 19 Comments
He only earns his freedom and existence
Who daily conquers them anew.
I am staring at a narrow log bridge spanning a raging mountain stream. Covered in ice and snow. Three hours from the trailhead. The wind howls. I think, if I slip and fall, I probably won’t make it back- hypothermia.
I step on the bridge.
I am staring at my beloved. The room is warm and safe. I have something important to say. Something hard.
I ask about something else- anything else.
Physical fear is powerful but it is linear, simple- if I fall, I die.
The fear that inhabits our relations with others is different- messy, not simple. It percolates up from a cauldron of guilt, anxiety, and self-loathing. Fearful, we endure relationships that make us feel small and lost. Or we let those we love drift away. This fear separates us from our sense of self.
That day in the mountains, I was seeking something on the other side of the bridge. Something important. The spiritual experience that day brought me. And so I stepped out- with care and with commitment- focused and fully present.
Each moment is like that icy bridge. Calling us to find the strength to step out in this strong and present way. Calling us to overcome the fear.
It is difficult, often we falter. But what awaits us on the other side is something with value beyond measure. A life that is authentic, true to our sense of self. Without separation from those we love. The place where we become who we are, truly.
As always Tom, you manage to say so much in so few words, and really get at the heart of things. It occurred to me that ICY, for me, is slowly becoming I SEE…and that changes everything.
Simply, yet strong images of fear — sublty different, but the same too. The icy bridge is a great image for stepping out into fear ……….. & being our true selves.
The imagery could be more perfect with where you were taking us. I always feel as if you (your writing) takes to a quiet place where my mind has time to breath and sort things out. This piece of your heat and soul did that today. 🙂
What a lovely thing to say.
I often feel that the all I need to do- whatever the nature of my struggle at that moment- is to return to the “quiet place where my mind has time to breath.”
HI Tom. Fear of being our authentic self, often stops us from experiencing the beautiful life that waits for us: Being truly open with another, be exactly who we are, Masks removed, is the only way to be! But because we may feel rejection by another, we never get to remove the mask and say what we mean, ever! Sometimes the relationship we have with ourselves isn’t authentic, we get our ‘self’ wrapped around and interwoven with the people we live with, work colleagues, status, friends that our true essence is often diluted, and at times non-existent! The magic of staying heart centred and present in the moment sometimes eludes us all!
Fear of rejection is a big part of this- for me certainly. But also a kind of fear of connecting with that sense of self- perhaps a strand of the general fear of change. I sometimes think my early life was driven in part by a “fear of success.” Now, although I falter, I seek to move past those kind of fears.
Your thoughts are always insightful and sensitive. Thank you.
This is a stunning piece. It echoes what so many of us do in living…run away from the truth, paralyzed with the fear of perhaps…being alone..whereas, being alone would be less lonely than not being ourselves in a relationship. Fear is such a silly, yet gravely serious being. You are so wise! xo Heather
Fear can paralyze. I believe that facing those fears begins with self-awareness. Without it, we can kid ourselves, thinking that we are being honest with ourselves, that our lives are just fine, when we are actually disconnected from our sense of self. One of the things I admire in your writing is that growing self-awareness and the striving to live and hold that authentic life.
Thanks for your support for my writing and your kindness.
I have hiked and been at the start of those (real) bridges). When I get to the other side I try and recall how I felt when crossing. And I recall nothing–the mind is empty and present, fear kept at bay by a calm center that refuses to let it interfere with that moment. As you say, the fear is linear. (I had never analyzed that part of the experience before–thank you!) If our goal is to be true to ourselves in relationships, the waters are murkier and choppier: loved ones’ feelings to be considered. Honesty and diplomacy required. I much trickier traverse, but also accomplished one breath at a time.
I agree. Different challenges but same way of navigating them. Open, ready, strong, present- and with great care.
This is a great community of folks- sharing our work and thoughts. Thanks for being such an important part of it.
Tom, your posts are always so, so thoughtful. This sentence, “Fearful, we endure relationships that make us feel small and lost.” really hit home for me. Been there, done that. Thank you for so eloquently giving voice to the fears of so many. I also wanted to let you know that I have nominated you for a “Very Inspiring Blogger Award,” because I am always enriched by your posts. http://donnaanddiablo.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/they-like-me-they-really-really-like-me/
I’m again filled up with the feeling of gratitude to be part of this supportive community of writers. It’s something special.
You are so kind. Thanks so much for thinking of me on the award list.
The enrichment runs both ways.
You are very kind….
Nice piece Tom. Intellectually, I know this to be true….even so…that ‘step’ always feels, like the very first time. I am slowly learning, the ‘agony’ I experience is much too high a price to pay in trying to avoid the fear.
I read somewhere recently…..” the hours of my most agonizing fear…is over the thing that never happened”
Fear is a great and terrible force in our lives. And I do believe that the relative simplicity of physical fear makes it more manageable, often instinctive. But the fear generated by our self-doubt, anxiety is another thing.
Thanks for your always thoughtful response.
Tom, This is so beautifully written. I have to say though, I do believe I live an authentic life, yet I am separated from some of my loved ones. I have not found being who I am truly am to mean all of my relationships work.. The more authentic I become, the less willing some are to dance with me. I’d like your feedback on this. Wonderful post.
You make me think about all this. When I said “without separation,” I was thinking only of the separation that I had created out of my own fears and anxiety with those I loved- and who loved me.
Perhaps what I am trying to say is that when I am strong and centered, I can feel not “separated” even from people who I care about but who are turning away from me. Physical separation of course but not emotional separation.
You also make the very insightful observation that trying to walk this path of the authentic life can make others around us feel anxious- even come to reject us. I have felt something like this in my own life. But I keep coming back to the idea that my sense of closeness or separation is something that lives in me- not in them. Not that it doesn’t matter what they feel and think- just that I seek to own my emotions, to feel what seems true- to me.
Brenda, thank you for such a thoughtful response. Thank you very much.
Juicy imagery here Tom… Thank you for your way with words. Thank you for writing from that place of truth. 🙂
Thanks for the read and reply- and thanks for the encouragement to write this- writer to writer.