I was a freshman in college sitting in a sociology class when the professor, who was also a practicing licenced psychologist, asked for a volunteer for a mental experiment. Perhaps I was bored, and maybe just stretching, but at any rate, I found myself playing a game with him while the rest of the class watched. He said a series of words and I had to tell him the first image that came to mind. He started out slowly and gradually increased the speed of the noun race. Eventually I lost control of my answers, as was expected, and the tail end of the experiment went something like:
Me: "milk chocolate"
Me: "Easter Chocolate"
Me: "chocolate brownie sundae 2 for 1"
Him: "Just say one word..."
My professor grinned. Apparently, he could read me like the obscure book he wrote and forced the class to purchase for $49.95.
"Loren, you're obsessed with chocolate and afraid of men." He announced, confidently.
The room was silent. Every male eyeball was turned in my direction like plant leaves drawn to the sun. I squirmed under the heat of the invisible spotlight. I decided right then and there that I would never allow myself to be analyzed in public again, (not counting this site, the word "blog" wasn't invented yet) .
Fears, well yes, I have them now and have had them in the past. Do I like letting them show? NO. One of my life-long projects is to let go of them, one by one, because they block me from personal growth. They keep me from saying yes to life.
I'm not talking about his "me and men theory," but more important things like not following my dreams for fear of wasting my time, and not going outside because it's raining. It was not until I got caught in a torrential downpour walking home from a park that I realized how freeing it can be to get soaking wet in a rain storm.
Patti Digh, in her book Life is a Verb compares saying yes to wearing pink glasses. She encourages readers to think about the fears that limit our opportunities. From whom and from what do you seek permission in your life? Find this out and then STOP IT! Saying yes requires one to release some assumed control over life. It requires faith in ourselves and our Creator. Saying yes can be as scary as hell.
I like to think about certain people whom I consider to be role models who said "Yes" to personal change. Mary, the mother of Jesus comes to mind, Cassie Bernall, one of the students who was murdered at Columbine H.S., and the character Morrie Schwartz, from the novel Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Ablom. Saying yes is a kind of death; it's a kind of falling. It's falling without knowing where you'll land. If saying yes makes life an adventure, then my dreams say I'm ready to give myself permission to put on the pink glasses.
P.S. Miralee Ferrell's novel The Other Daughter is also a great story of a woman's struggle to say Yes to life. I won this book on Koala Bear Writer's blog and I really enjoyed it. Thank you Koala and Miralee.