Tigers Above; Tigers Below

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Truth is I’d rather run. Board a plane. Take a hike. Read a book. Listen to Brahms or Marvin Gaye or Aretha. Jump out of my skin. Escape.

I have a certain expertise at running: I’m an escape artist. Houdini and me: we have got our act down! I have run from things scary, painful, disorienting or just unfamiliar.

I learned to be an escape artist as a child. When violence threatened at 12 Orchard Drive, I climbed a tree. I climbed a hilltop. I hid invisible (I prayed) behind a formal chair in my mother’s (un-lived-in living room). Later on, I hid in so many extracurricular activities, chose universities far away, accepted jobs that kept me from tigers.

I became adept at recalling only fully-lighted moments from my childhood while turning my back on dark memories where tigers lurked.

Those tigers are smart cookies. They took up residence inside my heart so I would never be without them. Even in what appears to others as a safe place, I feel the tigers prowling. My heart beats a fast and breath-taking tattoo.

Now to be fair, I also can summon up courage. Not every day. Not in every situation. Not when I’m feeling low in confidence or energy or both. But, yes. I have faced my tigers and even at times befriended them. Those tigers can be my best teachers if I’m confident. As Eleanor Roosevelt reminds me: “We must do the thing we fear the most. We must face down the fear.” You know how lovely it feels to face a fear and reclaim your serenity? That’s one sweet reward.

Oct 14 Blog - Tiger image