I've heard the term 'traveling mercies' before in a variety of contexts– in literature, in church, at goodbye parties. My understanding of the term and the sentiment was fairly instinctual. When we travel, when we are on the move, we ask for protection and safety from whomever one tends to appeal to with our most human desires. Every time I get on an airplane, I put my right hand on the side of the door before I take my seat, and then during take off, I pray for safety and for things to not explode. That typically suffices my angst until there's turbulence or I can feel anything whatsoever that's not perfect fluidity, and I grab the sides of my seat and panic silently while tuning to my designated 'panic' playlist on my iPod.
Like most adventures, I had a lot of feelings about this trip. I was excited for the disruption of necessary minimalism and the freedom that it creates in my routine and in my mind. I was excited to meet and learn about walks of life that would otherwise rarely intersect with my own, to get to know Austin in this new and playful context, to know myself within that as well. What I was not looking forward to, however, was, put plainly, the transportation of it all.
Ohhh how I loathe transportation. A projectile vomiter since before my first formed memory, having to be in a moving vehicle without any control, familiarity, or dramamine has produced an anxiety that, for the most part, feels entirely normal. Have to get into the backseat of a car? Roll down the window and think happy thoughts. Going on a cross-country bus? Sit near the front and militantly watch the road and the driver for signs of sleepiness or oncoming heart attack in case I need to take over. Going on an airplane? Resign myself to believing that I have no control over an aircraft whatsoever–cue the panic playlist. Going on an overnight bus? Never.
We all have our fears, and some speak louder than others. To be a human is to have anxieties, logical or otherwise, and for good reason– leaving the house is a real threat most days. We are fragile and events are unpredictable, and this path that my mind wanders into when I'm left to my own devices is a path that we could all go down, just walking out of our front door. This is why it is always best that I'm not left to my own devices, that I have a sweet husband and good friends and inspiring artists all around who remind me that not everything that exists in my mind serves me well.
A fear of clogged arteries due to a daily diet of fast food is one that is helpful– my life can be as colorful and vibrant as beets, papayas, and spinach. A fear of taking a long bus ride through unknown terrain is not supported by anything real, and by succumbing to the authority of my mind versus the authority of faith (in the driver, in the bus manufacturer, in the fact that I'm not the end-all-be-all of driving, in God), I miss out not only on the journey, but in the opportunity to become that much more brave.
I'm beginning to see (mostly through the rose colored lenses of retrospection) that I am invited to take the right action before I ever feel like it is the right thing to do. I can choose a little more surrender when I feel terrified. I can say yes when I mostly feel like saying no. I can trust the workings of the world and breathe through my stubborn belief that I am an integral part of what keeps it working. I can, in a sense, recognize that familiar tinge of tightness and struggle within my gut and parse through what is keeping me tense. I can decide to only keep what is helpful and choose, with mostly grace and eyes half closed and lots of help, to throw away that which is keeping me small, which is not helping me to come that much more alive.