For several months I have watched one and a half year old Marian master various feats with her yellow plastic truck. At first she would push it along, using the sturdy vehicle to steady her wobbly walk. Next, the challenge was to climb onto the seat, either backwards or forwards, and then peddle, either backwards or forwards, across the living room rug. Today she got both of her four-inch feet up onto the seat and held onto the steering wheel. Then, slowly, carefully she let go and rose up into a daring free stand. Her smile was wide and her round blue eyes twinkled with the joy of achievement.
“Whoa!” she cried out as she got herself back down to earth and came over to me, Judu, for a triumphant hug.
I laughed as I held her happy body. I, too, felt a wave of triumph watching her. It confirmed a favored truth of mine. We are hard wired to risk. We move instinctively against confining barriers, crashing through first one and then another and another. Nobody encouraged Marian to stand up on her truck. It was simple play, play brimming with challenge and complete with the exhilarating tingle of fear. It wouldn’t be the same if there was not the distinct possibility of crashing down, falling over. Our challenges differ day by day and year by year. Often it is something other than standing up on a plastic truck, but, whatever the task, once accomplished it brings the same sparkle I saw in Marian’s eyes today. It was the delight of a hard-won, newly found freedom coupled with the sense of a suddenly inflated landscape of possibility.
She reminded me of the skin tingling allure of fear and it’s ability to unerringly illuminate the path forwards. Her smile inspired me to remember to listen and to trust the inner urge to move beyond the boundaries of the known and to find the courage to follow the scent of an expanded life. Here’s hoping both Marian and I will relentlessly risk and risk again, to be tickled by the wonders of our capacity to dance freely in this unique and precious world of ours.