When I was younger I frustrated my parents because I never worked with my hands. I didn’t create objects, I didn’t work on vehicles, and I struggled in shop class. It is easy to pin that on the fact that I was lazy, and I would have much rather sat in front of a computer. It is harder to recognize that I was so fearful of failure when building something that I would rather not even try versus try and fail. Walking away hurt far less than the disappointment of falling short. Especially when those things I struggled with, my family, my friends, my peers excelled at. Embarrassment is a fear that lingers with us through much of our lives, as I am coming to learn.
I stay away from swimming pools. Part of this is because I am not keen with being around bodies of water. It isn’t the most comfortable place for myself to spend time. The other part however is the childish fear of never wanting to remove my clothes to dive into the water. 6’5, 250 pounds and daily reminded that I don’t have the most positive body image in the world. I’d rather keep my sorrow to myself instead of exposing the risk of shame to those around me. The psychologist in me says that little to no one would even notice, but the fear in me warns of the voices that I’ll never hear, but will still know exist.
Touching other people makes me cringe, it is one of the scariest things I could possible do. It isn’t due to germs, or anything along those lines. It is the inherent fear of failing to recognize non-verbal cues. It is the acknowledgement of being scared to touch others because it may not be what they want. A handshake? That is a risk. A hug? That is a death wish. If I touch someone, I have every nerve and muscle on watch. I feel each fiber of my being watching every movement that I make. “Touch their shoulder. Take two steps back. Crouch down so you are not as imposing. Step sideways so not to face them, but talk to them side-to-side.” A million thoughts like lightning impulses triggering my neurons to ensure that each move I make, it is a calculated, a secure risk.
I installed a radio today. Yes, a radio. A radio for my truck because I wanted to listen to the music on my phone through the speakers of the archaic, legendary 1995 F-150 and its 3 out of 4 working speakers. I pulled the radio out, pulled the wiring out, read the wiring diagram, rewired the new radio, installed the radio and harness, and turned the key.
I heard music from my phone through the speakers of my truck.
I witnessed today’s reality merge with the history of my own life.
I ran yesterday. I ran through the woods. It was hot. I took off my shirt after 1.5 miles. I ran 1.0 miles free through the trees, catching breaths of air with each slight jump and switch of the winding, widening, narrowing pathway to freedom. I forgot that my shirt was wrapped around my hand, and I ran with my friends through the wood.
I fled the fears of yesterday, and moved with the joys of today.
I kissed my wife tonight. My beautiful wife. I laid next to her and cherished the reality that I could kiss this amazing woman. Embracing the reality that I had someone so close to me that love knows no bounds between us, and instead binds us closer to one another then anyone and anything we’ll be next to for the rest of our lives.
I kissed the joy of my heart, and I forgot about the insecurity of my soul.
There is no secret answer to overcoming the strange nuances of our lives. I still have serious sensory issues with physical contact, and large crowds are some of the most dangerous places I have ever ventured into. Women make me nervous, even my wife, solely out of the expectation of levels of respect that I was brought up to place in them. Working on projects? My students are the only reason that I’ve taken on any tasks, only because I’ve been able to watch them for so long. Personal image? It is garbage. However, only because of crazy supportive, non-judgement runners am I ever able to break free from my own fears.
I suppose that is the secret; recognize your fears, and decide which version of your life you wish to live. I have come to the conclusion that I prefer my life with radio, running, and a very beautiful woman.