Freedom comes naturally, when we liberate ourselves from fear.
Today, I felt the liberation of the open road and wind on my face as I cruised around the valley near Pai, Thailand with a map in hand and only a vague idea of where I was going on this solo journey.
Until this point, I’d been too intimidated to hop on a motorbike on my own. Ask most people who’ve ever ridden with me in a car, and they’ll tell you I’m not the best driver. I’ve also attracted my share of freak accidents in the past. Then there’s the other guy. People drive on the left side of the road in Southeast Asia – often unpredictably and aggressive. People die on the roads from motorbike accidents quite often here (to be fair, they also drive motos much more here).
Yet, I’ve enjoyed riding on the back of a motorbike ever since I was very young. I remember when I was maybe 3 or 4 years old, nothing made me happier than to put on a white t-shirt and blue jeans like my dad, and go for a ride with him for ice cream on the back of his red Honda motorcycle. I admired my young female neighbor who would drive her yellow Yamaha bike all around our rural roads. But here I am, 33 years old, and had never driven one. It was time for that to change.
Having commuted to massage school by bicycle fifteen minutes each way in Chiang Mai for 10 days was a nice warmup to my two wheeling experiences, but I still felt myself become anxious as I went to rent the motorbike today (they almost didn’t rent it to me due to my lack of experience). Pai is a MUCH smaller place though, so I felt this would be the best location to kickstart my date with intimidation and take back my fear.
I was right. It was so much fun and so liberating!
Motorbikes as Metaphors?
As I became more comfortable winding around the curves and hills, stopping off to enjoy the scenery of waterfalls and canyons, I couldn’t help but think how much of a metaphor this experience was for life.
How often do we never take a risk to do something because we are too intimidated? Too certain that we aren’t good enough, strong enough, independent enough, etc. etc….. whatever the reasons are that our little minds trick us into coming up with and then convinces us to hold steady in that place of motionless fear. We remain observers of the things we WISH we could be only if….. if…. if we would let ourselves move into the discomfort of the unknown.
Fear, and its opposing force, courage are quite intense. But they often take a backseat to other emotional terrain, because we have become quite adept at masking our doubts and fears. We quietly move forward in life leaving many things unsaid and undone in order to keep ourselves well within our comfort zone. Without risk, there can’t be failure, right? Try again. Your fear and doubts will surface as some other undesirable emotion or habit, if you fail to acknowledge them.
When we rub against a place that makes us fearful or uncomfortable, that’s exactly when we need not turn and walk the other way, but continue treading in the direction of the soft spot and take small steps to strengthen our vulnerabilities. Most of the time, as we come into the light on the other side, ninety percent of what made us feel afraid is but a figment of our imagination. The sweetest ending is when what we found fearful before, begins to excite us the most!
In everyday life, how many times have you neglected to:
- Express how much you love someone, for fear it won’t be reciprocated?
- Take an unpopular stance for what you believe, for fear of being rejected?
- Acknowledge a mistake, for fear of looking foolish?
- Earn a living from what you love to do, for fear of being penniless?
- Allow yourself to evolve, for fear of losing your identity?
Where there is fear, there is also freedom.
I challenge you to let yourself be naked. Fully exposed. Get to know the parts of yourself that you love to doubt and hate, those shadowy parts, and then begin to Love them. And once you start to Love that place, and it starts to feel safe, then move on to the next, and the next, and the next. Until finally, one day the fear loses out to the Love and you can begin to Love yourself and then learn how to Love the whole world. You will understand that we all are brothers and sisters who are here to guide one another into the tough lessons of life.
And when you recognize this, as you stumble you won’t care who is watching because that means you are well on your way to becoming that free, liberated spirit you’ve always dreamed about and can now share – wearing that big badge of Courage you’ve so beautifully earned.