I am afraid of losing my breath. I don't like holding my breath under water for too long; remember as a child how someone would always challenge you to a breath-holding contest? I would hate those. Feeling your brain panic in your head, feeling your chest start to pound. I would always give up early, afraid my organs would rebel and punish me later. When I played basketball I would never push myself to exhaustion during a game; if I felt myself breathing really heavily, without being about to reign it in, I'd pray for a break, a whistle, a call from the referee to pause the game for a blink of an eye. If all else failed, I'd ask to sit down. Just for a few seconds. Just to feel like I was in control. And how the caution has translated into my life, how I estimate with a huge margin for chance mishaps, thinking what could go wrong, or at the very least, how many red lights I could hit on the way. It brings me too often to say, "why bother?", it keeps me from going all chips in. I think it's time to hit the pool and practice not breathing, bring on the threat of organ mutiny, run like hell until my lungs are wheezing in an unattractive symphony of grasping for air. On the brink of wildness is where I would like to someday be.
The equipment is being gathered, the plans are coming together, and soon, I will leave for Spain. On Sunday, my jitters got the better of me and I had a minor meltdown while on a giant walk, religiously breaking in my shoes. All those tiny doubts that I've been shoving down and pushing away came sneaking up all at once: What if I can't actually do this? What if I'm not strong enough? What if I haven't prepared nearly enough [probable] or haven't brought the right things? What if I get horribly, horribly lost [again, quite probable]? What if I never figure out blister prevention and it's just horrible the whole way? What if they take my face wash away at the airport? What if I lose my passport? Though some of these fears are more warranted than others, they are nothing to mull over and over in my head. They could happen (I will get lost. I will blister, at some point), but they could not, and it doesn't do anything for me to give all of my brain power to being anxious. I have been trying to concentrate on what I'm excited about, even the smallest things like the fun gear I've accumulated (like my rain jacket! Is it green? Is it yellow? Who knows!) and my new inflatable pillow. I'm looking forward to the quiet and the space and the simplicity of "today this is your task and this is the journey, and the road on which you walk it." I'm looking forward to being in Spain and being close to the ocean. I'm looking forward to being on my own, and all of the challenges that go along with that, and proving to myself that I can do this. I have been trying to envision myself on the walk, on winding country roads, with a pack and a map, and I don't recognize that woman. I can't see her yet. I am looking forward to getting acquainted with this Jess, the one who can navigate her way, albeit clumsily and roundabout at times, across a long stretch of land, despite fear and doubt, despite this throbbing timidity that is having a seizure in my chest.
This is by far the craziest thing I'll have ever done so far. This may very well be the craziest thing I ever do. This is the kind of thing that I'll bring up with my kids to prove that once, before diapers and dealing with picky eaters and (God forbid) a Mom-Haircut, I walked my terrified ass across the whole width of Spain by myself with a tiny backpack and bleeding feet.
How necessary that we do what is difficult. How necessary that we show ourselves that we are much more than what we limit ourselves to.
I feel like what comes easily for many people requires me to muster up much bravery. It isn't easy for me to even get up some days, and that feels like a victory to get my feet on the floor and then my body out the door. I feel like I am just this small little thing who has somehow been given a semblance of an adult life, and I'm hoping no one figures it out that I'm posing. I am full steam ahead, but I don't know what I'm doing. I don't have any grasp at all. Do we all flail at whatever we can wrap our fingers around? Do we all feel like even the smallest tasks require armour, require sacrifice, require us to be extremely bold?