As you know from reading this blog, I’ve been working on living a creative life for the last few years. Facing fear–recognizing it and managing it–was one of the very first steps toward living a creative life and continues to be something I work on.
Last weekend, I joined in the Women’s March in Portland, and to my surprise, it tied right into living a creative life.
First of all, I almost didn’t go. I am a homebody who likes quiet weekends full of coffee, time with my family, and library books. The organizers expected 30,000. That felt like a crowd to me. And figuring out how my friend and I would get there was getting ridiculously complicated and confusing.
I just wanted to stay home. And I almost did.
Instead, the morning before, I found my resolve, figured out the bus system, told three friends what my plan was, and *poof*–all of a sudden, eight people are meeting at my house to take a bus and a train to the march.
I didn’t know what I wanted to get out of the experience except to go, observe, and get home safely.
So, we did it–in cold, thick rain after a panic-inducing ride on a packed train. We arrived. We avoided the one group shouting angry things, joined the nearly 100,000 people who showed up, and simply stood in the rain being together with all of the different messages and signs: women’s rights, healthcare, environment, black lives matter, si se puede, immigrant rights, LGBTQ rights, etc. All of it.
The experience gave me a feeling of capability. A powerful feeling. A real antidote to fear. Instead of feeling unable, telling myself “I don’t know how” or “I can’t,” and fretting that it’s all too hard and overwhelming, I felt capable. I mean, if all of these people stood peacefully, even cheerfully, in mud and rain for hours together, what else might get accomplished? My eagerness to try, to act, dampened my perpetual fret and worry.
I think feeling capable is, for me, the true opposite of fear.
My kiddo found a book that my great uncle gave me when I was a child. One you’ve certainly heard of–The Little Engine That Could.
When I read it aloud, it surprised me. It contains the “I think I can. I think I can,” lesson that most people know. But what I didn’t remember is a few trains coldly refuse to help–one because he thinks he’s too important, one because he thinks he’s too old and unable. The train that chooses to help is the smallest one, has never been over the mountain, and is the only female train.
The real lesson is that before she even knows what the broken train needs, she offers to help. Her desire to help motivates her to face a challenge and overcome fear.
It’s the same with the women’s march and with creativity–the desire to contribute something positive overrides fear, and once an action is started, it generates a feeling of capability that fuels the next steps.
Maybe feeling capable is a form of hope. A form of confidence. The trust in myself that I can say, “How can I help?” and be of use, even when I don’t know what kind of help is needed. I’ll find the resources within myself or among the we-can-do-it friends and family I’m lucky to have in my life. Saying “I think I can” and “I’ll figure it out” and even being curious about the process feels a lot more constructive and creative than standing back and wondering if I can and how.