Thoughts and musings

Getting Back to Simple/Fighting Fear

Fear is a motivation killer.

As I sit here, so very grateful that my car is back (yay!) and that it wasn’t the transmission (double yay!) and, although it was costly, it was nowhere near as expensive as a transmission would have been, and grateful that so many helped me cover the costs, I’m finding myself also filled with fear.

I’m trying to plan the next leg of the trip that will include Washington, maybe Nashville, New Orleans, Austin and then home. Maybe the Grand Canyon if it’s not freezing cold by the time I get there. Yet I can’t seem to focus enough to make decisions about where to go. Part of it is financial – fixing the car took almost everything I had. However, I get my unemployment Sunday or Monday and I just invoiced my students, so by mid-week next week, I’ll be fine. And I do have enough money right now to get me to that point, though I have to plan carefully. And I’m fine with throwing in a night at Cracker Barrel to save some money.

But I’m finding myself unable to focus and commit to any one decision. I find myself avoiding planning, using a ton of excuses to not actually sit down and figure this shit out. And I’m finding myself anxious when I do finally sit down to try to plan.

And I realize that it’s just fear, plain and simple.

What if the car isn’t fixed? What if I get on the road and something else happens and I don’t have friends nearby who will let me park in their yard for as long as needed? What if I’m in some little town in the middle of nowhere and something happens? Yes, I have AAA but that doesn’t answer every problem.

I expected there to be some kind of car trouble on the road. Actually, I thought the trailer would fall apart, necessitating a quick return home. I worry every time I drive on a rough road if this is going to be what destroys the trailer. But these were normal type of fears.

Right now, I’m afraid. I’m afraid to get back on the road. I’m afraid to drive the car. I’m afraid to drive the car with the trailer attached.

I’m just afraid.

And I thought it was important to share this because we all face fear when we’re doing new things, sometimes even when we’re doing old things. You’re not human if you don’t deal with fear when things don’t go right in your plans. But it’s how you handle that fear that dictates how you’re going to live your life.

I used to live in a lot of fear. I was in an emotionally abusive marriage and lived for almost fifteen years afraid to make any decisions because of the repercussions if I made the wrong decision. I was crippled by fear for so long that it became normal. It took a good therapist and good friends to realize that I didn’t have to live my life based on that fear.

That doesn’t mean I am fearless. Far from it. From the outside, it may look like I bravely stumble headlong into challenges, smiling and laughing all the way. The truth is that there is fear every step of the way.

When I started thinking about this trip, I almost didn’t commit to it because I was afraid of it. It’s a huge undertaking and I am a broke artist, so how could I make this happen? The idea of traveling around the country in a tiny trailer that I built was terrifying. There were so many points during the planning and the build where I almost threw in the towel. It seemed impossible and the voice of fear kept intruding, telling me why I shouldn’t do it, what I should be afraid of, and – the biggest one of all – what if I failed?

Even while on the road, there have been many days where I’ve been tempted to just drag the trailer home. While the adventure has truly been amazing, it’s also incredibly difficult, especially because I am on my own. It gets lonely. It gets physically difficult. And sometimes, it’s just hard.

And this is where fear is a bastard. It can control your life. It can make you say, “No, I’m not going to do that because what if …” What if can kill you.

So I find it’s important to acknowledge when fear gets ahold of you. This morning, I found myself once again avoiding making plans. I know I can stay here at least until Monday, so fear was whispering in my ear, “Stay till Monday then. It’s okay. We can make plans on Monday.” I had to say out loud, “I’m afraid.” And once I vocalized that, the fear seemed to let go a bit. Sometimes just acknowledging what we feel instead of burying it can help deal with it.

So – I’m afraid. Now what?

I wrote a book called “Courage To Be Simple,” which was about what I learned while living in China after three of the most difficult years of my life. I learned that I need to get back to yes and no when I’m buried in emotion. Get rid of all the shit that clouds my decision-making and just get back to simple.

Does being afraid mean I stay here until my friends kick me out? No, that’s ridiculous.

What if the car breaks down again? Okay. What if it does? I have AAA. I can plan the next few stops a little more carefully so that I don’t go through too many small towns until I feel more secure. I can drive shorter distances and make more stops. That might cost a bit more but that will help ease my concern.

Seriously, what is the car breaks down again? Then I’ll deal with it then. I can’t be hung up on that or I won’t move forward. Logically, the car should be fine. It drives better now than it did when I bought it. So I can’t focus on what if. I just have to accept that it could happen again and that I’ll have to deal with it if it does.

What if I can’t find places to stay over the weekend? Weekends have been tough to book because everyone is camping right now. Okay, so this is where it’s good to know that I can stay here until Monday, if needed. But if I want to get back to Los Angeles in time to vote, I need to get my ass moving. So, let’s see what we can find and then decide if staying until Monday makes logical sense, not emotional sense.

Getting back to simple isn’t always easy. But after I had that conversation with myself today, I felt the fear retreat a little. I’m sure it’ll be back later today, just to remind me to be afraid because it has a job to do. But if I can get some planning out of the way and have something settled, that will keep the fear at bay, until the next thing comes up.

For today, I’m going to focus on just simply moving forward and hopefully getting back on the road again very soon. The next part of the adventure can’t wait!

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