On my recent beach trip with my friend, we had a close encounter of the creepy kind.
One evening, we got a late start out to dinner after a day on the beach… and the need to do something about our two days’ worth of beach hair. By the time we got to the restaurant, it was monumentally busy. It took some time to get served. The server was moving around like a tornado in a mobile home park, but there were just so many people. Despite her heroic efforts, we didn’t get through with dinner for about two hours. When we got back to our condo, it was around 10:00pm. I am old. I live in central Florida, which is “early bird special central.” I do not usually dine at eight and I do not usually stay out quite so long after dark. Still, I am a grown woman and should be able to handle myself past sunset just going from the parking spot directly in front of our condo to the condo door. It was a distance of about twenty feet.
Not so. I got out of the car and chatted with my friend as she gathered up her stuff in preparation of making her own exit from the vehicle. I happened to look over to the side of the parking lot and saw something moving under a large pile of leaves. I could not see specifically what it was, but I thought I spied a small, pointy face peering out from a tube of moving leaves. This was something creepy… in every sense. It was some creature- probably a mammal because the part of its face I could see appeared to be covered in fur. It was cylindrically shaped. I estimated it was about fifteen inches long and had a diameter of about five inches.
I was intrigued at first and wondered what it was. Then, the blasted thing started moving in our direction. Most animals will move away from humans, but this whatchamacallit was making a beeline directly towards us. It was not fast, but it was purposeful. I did not want to wait around to see how long it would take for it to reach us, so I mentioned it to my friend, who had all kinds of questions about the approaching critter. My friend is a curious person. She is talented at asking good, insightful questions that should generate helpful, informative answers. I was not that curious nor was I particularly good at supplying those helpful, informative answers at that particular moment. All I wanted was to get in the condo, safe from the creepy critter.
When we locked the front door behind us, barring the mystery animal from following us into the condo, I felt better. I began to wonder what the creature was. I did some googling to try to identify it, but never did nail it down. The leaf-incrusted tube of terror creeping towards us did not match any of the possibilities that either I or Google had. The closest thing seemed to be a shrew, but, if it was a shrew, it was clearly some kind of science experiment gone wrong because shrews are much smaller than the creepy critter on our front lawn.
I eventually gave up and figured this encounter was going to be the stuff that nightmares are made of if I did not stop thinking about it. My friend, however, was less daunted than I was.
“You were really afraid, weren’t you?” she asked incredulously.
“Yes,” I responded. “It was coming TOWARDS us. Besides, don’t you realize that I am afraid of EVERYTHING?”
It baffled my mind that my friend who has known me for five years could be so unaware of the terrified nature of my personality. Fear has always been my emotion of choice. I get scared before I even have a chance to realize what else I feel in any given situation. This tendency towards terror makes life a little difficult. I would not say it limits me unduly, but I do find existing in the real world to be a ton of work.
Let me be clear. I am not a coward. A coward does not do things because she is afraid. I, on the contrary, am incredibly brave. Even though I am afraid of everything, I overcome the fear to do the things I want and need to do. Most of my life, this has meant fighting my own impulses and acting against what my brain is telling me to do. In its fear and paralysis, I must summon superhuman strength to catapult past my emotions to accomplish the life to which I aspire. In my life coaching process, I have been working on not forcing myself to catapult past the emotion. I am learning to do two things. First, to find the emotions that lurk just under the surface of the fear… the desire, the love, the anger… and use them to propel myself forward. In that way, instead of using my energy to keep the fear emotion at bay, I am using the momentum of the more positive motions to fuel my efforts. Secondly, I am learning to befriend the fear. Maybe I do not have to catapult past the fear. Maybe I can take it with me. Maybe there is strength to be had from allowing fear to be my traveling companion, but not the tour guide.
On the other hand, I am just as happy that the jeeper creeper in the leaves was NOT my traveling companion back into the condo!
What gives you the creeps? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a not-so-fraidy day!