I really love Martha Beck. I generally find Oprah's Magazine overwhelming but Martha Beck always has some words of wisdom that help me.
I really liked this piece, entitled 'The 20 Questions Every Woman Should Ask Herself.'
The one that made me really stop and think hardest was Number 16: How Can I Keep Myself Absolutely Safe.
'Cause I know that I can't.... and the doing so would kill me just the same - by robbing me of joy.
I know the compulsion to be 'safe' is enticing. But, really, it would have been safer to stay home (wouldn't it?) than it would have been to get on a plane to see Paris. It would have been safer to live alone and in complete control (wouldn't it?) than to fall in love and risk my heart. For that matter, it would have been safer to live in an underground bunker and avoid pollution, noise, falling heavy objects and ultraviolet sunbeams (wouldn't it?) than to have a home with lots of windows and light and corgi fuzz....
There are times when I get sick thinking about all the time I wasted trying to be safe. And I'm not talking about the time between my 'divorce' and falling in love with The Boy. That was necessary and productive time. I wasn't hiding from anything when I was 'single'. I loved it. I built a life during those years. A life that I loved. A life that I still love but that just so happens to have another, wonderful person in it. In many ways, taking that time for myself was the riskiest thing I did - because I had to trust it would be OK in the end.
So I'm not talking about that.
I'm talking about all the time before that. The time before I was 33 years old. All the times that I did the 'right' things - the safe things. There were so many things that I didn't want to do but felt that I should do.
You can think back on your life and you always know the decisions that you made while you were lying to yourself.
I know, in my heart, all the times that I was playing it safe because I was afraid to live.
This is not to imply that one should live recklessly, impulsively, rashly or without thought or planning. But anytime you set foot out your door, you take a risk - whether you want to admit it or not.
And sometimes (many times) the risk is worth the reward.
Safety? Is there any such thing? And can you keep yourself 'safe' and lose your soul?
Image: Question Mark by Artretroposter.