This weekend I was supposed to be at a prestigious book festival in Newport Beach, California. Then Mother Nature decided that April was not too late for snow or too early for tornadoes. So I had to make a judgment call -- drive eight hours through crappy weather to take flights through airports with airline weather alerts -- traveling at least 24 hours with my dog Allie to maybe arrive at my destination IF the weather cooperated.
OR listen to my gut, which kept saying: You might want to rethink this.
So I did what I always do when I am faced with a tough decision: I prayed.
Each time I did, the answer kept coming: Don't go.
So then I did what I often do when I get a clear answer.
I said, Yeah but. . .
Yeah but I have a commitment to be there.
Yeah but I don't want to let anyone down.
Yeah but I promised to go.
Yeah but I want to be there.
Yeah but I don't want to be a flake.
Yeah but what if they hate me for not coming.
And all those yeah buts came with a churning stomach, my shoulders up around my ears, and a litany of self-loathing in some very old voices.
So I prayed some more.
On the morning I needed to make my final decision, this is what I heard:
Own your decision.
So I waited until the last minute, and then I did what I knew in my gut I had to do. I wrote the organizers and told them that I would not be there. But -- because this also came to me as I was praying -- I asked if it would be possible to join the panel virtually.
Then I waited for their response. As I waited, I sweated. My stomach roiled. And I imagined all of the horrible things they would think of me from now until eternity.
Half an hour later, I received two very lovely emails saying that everyone understood and supported my decision. And five minutes after that, they said that I could participate virtually.
Everything resolved itself kindly, neatly, sweetly. Yet for almost an hour, my body continued to feel as thought it hadn't. It manifested in it all the anxiety I had been toting around for days.
That's when something profound came home to me.
Studies have shown that 85 - 90% of what we spend our lives fearing NEVER comes to pass.
Let me say that again: The VAST MAJORITY of the things we worry about never transpire.
And yet, we spend inordinate amounts of time worrying about these imaginary disasters. And when we worry, we behave and feel and live like the things we fear ARE going to happen.
In other words, we put ourselves through shitloads of tsuris for no reason at all, because we have persuaded ourselves that the reasons to worry are way more real and true and important and necessary than the reasons not to worry.
I felt stress and anxiety for over 48 hours about a decision that did have consequences -- but not a decision that warranted the mental, psychic, emotional, and bodily stress and strain through which I put myself.
Sitting at lunch after everything had so beautifully resolved, I asked myself: How do you want to move through the world from here on out? Listening to the old conditioned voices of fear and anxiety or creating new narratives of trust and peace and love?
Well, that's an easy answer sitting on THIS side of my decision. And that's the key -- remembering how I feel now, when next I feel the way I did two days ago.
And then to choose differently.
Every day we have the choice to lean on Love or fall back into fear. To star in a made-up horror movie of what if's or to begin to create new narratives of trust and faith and hope.
But how do we remember to choose differently when those old fear-based voices sound so familiar?
When I was a kid, my dad made a commercial for Monster Vitamins. The gimmick was that he kept his children captive in the basement -- but at least he was a good enough dad to open the trap door and give them Monster Vitamins!
After that commercial aired, I can't tell you how many times other kids asked me if my dad kept me in the basement.
That seemed like the most ridiculous idea to me! My dad -- the sweetest, funniest, nicest dad EVER -- could never have kept anyone in a basement. What were they talking about?
Well, fear's stories are just as absurd, but we fall for them every time.
So next time fear tries to bamboozle me, I am going to try to remember not to fall for fear's fake news by calling to mind what I learned in that uncomfortable hour after the beautiful resolution to this week's dilemma.
Fear wants us to feel that it is true. It wants us to quiver and quail and quake enough to make us forget to trust Truth, lean on Love, and remember Mind. But in the end, fear is a lot of smoke and mirrors. It is a tale. Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.
So, instead of falling for fear, I am going to remember to take my Monster Vitamins, and so turn on the Light of Love that always eradicates the lie of fear.
Instead of listening to the same old same old voices, we can make new choices. We can all begin to create new narratives of Love and joy and peace.
Won't you take your Monster Vitamins and join me?