Tuesday, May 24, 2011

fear of falling

There are things I'm afraid of…

sort of like monsters in the closet, 

but harder things, 

things I can't control and wish I could.

I'm afraid of failing, mostly.

Failing my kids, failing at homeschool, failing at keeping myself together, failing at being a good mother, failing at keeping a clean house and failing at loving life.

When those fears get big and monster like, I feel like I'm the kid in the bed. Knees up to my chin, calling out,

for someone to turn on a light and say, Lookit. It's just a coat over a chair. Lookit. It's a tree scratching the roof. Lookit. It's just shadow leaves turning in a crisp wind.

Lookit. I want someone to sit by my bed and hold my hand. I want them to smooth me, soothe me, help make the fear lesser, lighter, easier to carry, easier to let go. 

On better days, most days,

I want to do that for myself.

And on every day, 

I want to notice

when someone else who could be fearful, could be wobbly and uncertain,

strides into life and says,

Bring It.

Which is what my son did last weekend.

He was invited to sub for a percussionist in an elite Wind Ensemble, to play in the National Eisteddford in Canberra. 

He had two rehearsals in which to learn the part. He was playing with high school kids, aged 14-18. He was playing in a group that had been playing together for over a year. 

I would have quaked in my boots. 

But this is what my boy saw:

He was getting to play with drummers who inspired him! He was going to hang with kids he liked! He was going on an overnight trip to Canberra! He got a band shirt! It was purple! 

Bring It!

For me (coming along because I wouldn't miss it for the world), 
most of the trip was a complete unknown. 

As we headed off, I didn't know when we were going to have dinner. I didn't know which we were doing first, dropping our gear off at the Youth Hostel or going to the Concert Hall. I didn't know who was holding my son's music (though I knew Someone was). I didn't know when he should change into his band shirt. I didn't know if it mattered that he wasn't wearing the required black socks. I didn't know how he'd go or if it would go well. 

I had to sit back and let go. I was, literally, going along for the ride.

My son chilled out on the bus. He got into his band shirt when we got there. He skipped as he went, everywhere. 

It was time for the concert. By this time, I actually felt sick with nerves.

How would it go? Would he be all right? Would he keep up, know the music, would he fail?

There. There was that word again. Fail. 

I had no control whatsoever over my boy's future. He could tank, completely. There in those ten minutes on that enormous stage, he was completely vulnerable. I couldn't protect him, sitting in that audience of over a hundred, in that cavernous, impossible space. If anything went wrong, I couldn't leap the seats and shield him with my body. If anything went wrong, I couldn't fix it; I couldn't carry him out of there. I couldn't protect him, if he failed.

If he failed. 

My son strode onto the stage with his friends. He stood amongst the timpanis, the triangles, the marimbas, tiny. Wearing his purple shirt, and of course, his hat! 

The music began. My son focussed. If his focus had been a colour, you would have seen it coming like a beam of blue light. 

There he was. Counting the measures. Counting the beats. Waiting for just the right moment when a note or sound was needed. A note only he could play. 

And he did. He played. He played with his whole heart.

Threw caution to the wind.

Poured his Everything into it. 

He Brought It. 

And in that seat I simply sat. Watching my boy climb, no safety ropes to hold him, no net beneath. It was all or nothing; it was All. 

And afterwards, 
after I nearly cried with pride and fear,

he came up and brightly said,

"That was fun!!"

Because it was.

It is so simple,

to leap at life

wings spread

clutching at nothing,

dreaming and looking 

upward and out and around.

Seeing the potential everywhere. Seeing beauty in everything. Letting fear go and finding…




in the biggest and smallest moments. 

This is what my children teach me

where my children lead me

the joy they show me

the light I gather from them 

the gift they give. 


  1. I think when our children find something that they truly love on a level that perhaps we cannot even understand, there is no fear, just joy. They approach things fearlessly, throwing caution to the wind and living for the experience. We could all learn something from them! It is a shame that as adults, many of us let go of the joy and passions we felt as a child. Bravo to your son for having the courage and drive to put himself out there in front of others. I loved the video you posted a while back. Would love to hear him play again!

  2. Wow. I got teary reading this post. What a beautiful lesson to learn from your son. WOW!
    Thanks for sharing this story, it's a wonderful reminder to let go of fear.

  3. Children are so amazing. Why do they have that quality and we don't? Has it just been beat out of us by life?

    Your kids are Cool.

  4. Wow! What a great opportunity for him, and what a wonderful, joyful outcome for you all. I'm pretty sure you're not failing as a mom... I mean, look at this! :)

  5. So proud of your boy. I so know what you mean about being afraid. Why do we do that? But...you didn't hold him back, you allowed him to do this thing..this huge thing that made him feel so proud and happy and giddy. You are an amazing Mom. It is easy to do things if you aren't afraid. True courage is feeling the fear and doing it anyway. You are an inspiration Helena.

  6. What a great post! I am so happy for your son and for YOU!

  7. Cool! You know in my eyes, you could never fail. You are just far too lovely to do that. You have some pretty marvelous kiddos there, I can see that they are teaching you a lot as they learn. Big hugs, beautiful post as usual. xoxoxo

  8. Congratulations to your amazing son, and to you!! It's a wonderful thing to be able to feel the fear, and do it anyway. Fear summons courage, faith and trust, and as you said "he brought it" so beautifully. Thanks so much for your emotional integrity, I love going through your experiences with you!!


I love hearing from you! Thank you for your heartfelt, thoughtful responses—they lift me, and give me light.