Have you ever watched a young child learn to walk? It is such a mixture of emotions as the observer – delight, fear, hope, pride – as we see them try and fail, try and fail. What’s amazing is that the toddler rarely seems distressed by the constant getting up and falling down. That inner desire to develop this new way of being – as a walker – is so strong, that they are able to consistently call forth the courage and persistence necessary to keep at it.
Maybe little ones can do this without much apparent fear because they don’t have the appreciation that adults do of “what could happen” if things go badly. The bonk on the head when the table gets in the way, the broken arm that results from a fall that starts on a set of stairs. I could go on because these things and much more actually did happen with my kids. (I’ll stop now because I am making myself anxious:-)
Somewhere along the way we develop a fear of falling (aka – failing) that holds us back from fully experiencing life in its fullest form. It is pretty easy to come up with excuses for not taking a bold step, even if it is in the direction of something that we really, truly desire. The number of “what ifs?” we can create for ourselves is endless.
What might happen if, instead of looking at taking a new or challenging step through the lens of fear, we shift the way we think about the possibilities? Krista Tippett says that “Imperfection is the definition of humanity.” If you have aspirations to do or be something, your only option for making that a reality is to take some action. Otherwise it is just wishful thinking. And taking action can be tricky. Even with the most exquisite planning, stuff can happen that is unpleasant and unwanted.
Things go wrong, and we can find meaning there. But don’t forget that we have been learning to walk by falling down since we were toddlers. We knew then and can re-remember now that it is possible to integrate our losses into a wholeness on the other side.