Fear is a wild ride

I went on a waterslide this weekend, several times and of my own free will. This is a big deal for me. I had an accident on a waterslide as a kid and I steered clear of them until the last year or so. For roughly the last 30 years, I’ve been too afraid to try watersliding again.

It took me watching Gabe, four years old at the time, to even consider setting foot in the waterslide line. My kids have lots of fears, but hurtling themselves down slippery slopes into water isn’t one of them. I’ve accompanied them, my heart pounding, nearly hyperventilating, and with my eyes closed. I’ve gone with my kids in the not-too-distant past, but I didn’t like it. I would say that I faced my fears, but I wouldn’t say that I had fun doing it.

This weekend, the waterslide was fun. I think it was a combination of a gentle descent, a good raft, and a spectacular kid who was thrilled to be doing it with me. I mean ME. We went to the water park just the two of us for his birthday celebration.

Something about this combination gave me permission to enjoy myself. I opened my eyes and looked around as we zipped around, the green tunnel walls wooshing by, and all I can say is I was really there.

I didn’t face all of my fears, just one. I didn’t walk a narrow alley at night, I didn’t travel alone to a Middle Eastern country. I didn’t survive cancer or reduce myself to dollars and cents. I didn’t do any of the big things, just a small one for a small boy. But I did figure something out about fear: Fear longs to be pushed, and when you give her what she wants, she yields to incredible joy.

Go ahead, give it a try. Hurtle yourself down a slippery slope, eyes open. I dare you.

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