Ever since I allowed my authentic self to be seen, I’ve been sitting on top of this damned fence. First I lean one direction, poised to leap off that side of the fence. Then I lean the other direction, poised to leap off the other side of the fence. And then I lean back and just sit there. And rotate. Ouch.
It’s not like I don’t understand the choice in front of me. Jump off the fence one way and go back to the status quo – following a familiar path that’s well-worn by my footsteps and the footsteps of others. I can pretty much control the direction of this path and anticipate what lies around the corner. This path doesn’t demand my best, and most of the time it feels fairly safe.
And then there’s the other path. Son of a bitch path. Excuse me, but it’s really beginning to piss me off that path. First of all, it’s so far below this fence I’m sitting on that it feels like I’d be jumping off a 200’ cliff. Know what I mean? Scary. Really, really scary.
And then I can’t even see the damned thing, much less where it’s leading. It’s obscured by a heavy mist. Every once in a while, the mist parts, and I catch a glimpse of beautiful vistas that leave me gasping. Then the mist comes down again and shrouds the path and the way forward.
There’s nothing remotely comfortable, familiar, or predictable about this path. If I choose this path, I know I’ve got to drop the reins and surrender all semblance of control or knowing. I don’t like to do that. To put it mildly.
But here’s the worst part. That damned path has a seductive glow about it. I can’t stop thinking about it. I can’t quite seem to turn my back on it.
So I sit on the fence post of my dilemma, squirming and uncomfortable. I’m waiting for something. I have no idea what. A sign? A guru to tell me what to do? A voice from above? A shove in the middle of my back?
Then this morning it came.
I’m having a conversation with a client. She’s joking with me, asking me if I’m sure I’m not a therapist. Then she gets serious and says, “Carol, you know that’s where your healing gift truly lies. You instinctively know what’s going on for people and why. You know just what they need to hear, and you say it.”
Suddenly I’m back at college freshman year. It’s just after the long Thanksgiving weekend, and I’m sitting in Psych 101, staring at my white rat. Something’s wrong with him. He’s very aggressive – running around and around the cage, biting at my hand as I try to pick him up. And he’s forgotten all about how to push the lever to get food.
It turns out he was accidentally caged with a female rat over the holiday break. Apparently it was his undoing. (Draw whatever conclusions you may.) That simple mistake by a lab assistant is my undoing too. My previously strong interest in psychology dampens significantly when I have to start over with a new rat, and my grade suffers accordingly.
Then I discover that the psych department at my school is more oriented toward the laboratory-scientific approach to psychology as opposed to the humanistic approach. If I’m going to major in psychology, that means lots more hours in the lab with white rats and pigeons. Birds make me nervous, ever since a parrot landed on my head at a church fair. It hurt like hell. And now white rats make me nervous.
So I switch my major to sociology. Just like that.
I never pursue a career in the field that most interests me. I settle for scratching my psychology itch by reading lots of personal development books. I volunteer for a suicide prevention hotline and a domestic violence hotline. I engage in exciting conversations about what makes people tick.** I even toy with and then discard the idea of going back to school to become a therapist.
This morning, as I sat on my uncomfortable fence, remembering a white rat while the fence post poked me in the ass, I looked at the consequences of one choice made many years ago to take the easier, more comfortable, less demanding path.
My decision is made. It’s time to jump off the fence.
** I guess I’m still engaging in those exciting conversations about what makes people tick. On April 25th, I’m offering a free teleclass called “Your Soul Story: The Missing Piece of the Puzzle.” We’re going to talk about who we are, why we’re here, and what we’re going to do about it. Pretty juicy stuff, don’t you think? I can’t wait! I hope you’ll join me. Click the link below for more details. Remember – it’s free!