First Frost

Early Wednesday morning, Winthrop, Maine

It’s the first time on my fall adventure that I’ve had to scrape off an icy windshield. It was almost as cold last night as the familiar icy panic that gripped me in the middle of the night – 2:21 a.m. to be exact – when I reached over and flicked on the light. I’d been awake for a while by then sunk in a cold pit of self-doubt that all my thinking and solving, my breathing and frustration could not shake off. A wordless sinking despair. Will anything come of this journey? Am I going to make it? Am I going to be alright?

In the middle of the night, awakened by the “gremlins”, the answer is a most resounding “no” and “you are delusional to think you will!”

The next morning I mentioned my struggles with the middle of the night gremlins to Janis, the yoga teacher at the Y.

She smiled, “Spiritual leaders have have those too?”

She reminded me that there is something in our psyche that just isn’t done with that old argument from years or decades ago. Some part of our “fix-it” brain that wants to pick at the wound one more time, the regrets, the mistakes, still seeking to “make sense of it all.”

Elizabeth, my host in Winthrop on this frosty Wednesday morning, knew all about them too. She had her own technique to “deal” with the gremlins – to embrace them. To reach out and pull them close and hold them. Instead of doing all I do to try to think or solve, wiggle out of the way of them, to reach out and grab hold of the ice cold gremlin of fear and watch it melt.

Against everything that continued to want to run or hide, I tried last night to reach out and hold my middle of the night fear. And as I breathed and continued to hold the gremlin of fear, I could feel it melting. On the other side this clarity. I do know what I’m doing. I am clear about my call. I am doing this.

It’s like sitting here and writing this morning, the verbs changing from what the gremlins say I “will never do” or “can’t do” but the reminder that I “am” doing this. I am not just thinking about it but doing it. I am.

Perhaps the gremlins are that part of ourselves that wants to keep everything the same, that part of us that is scared to death of this new life we are living. It’s not bad to be afraid. It’s just not what we need to keep moving forward.

So maybe tonight an experiment. When the gremlins appear, reach out and embrace the fear, the confusion, the anxiety or anger. Don’t turn away but bring your love and attention to it and watch it melt.

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