Tuesday, February 1, 2011

living in fearless

This morning I went uptown for my very last test—the three-peat urine sample.

I took the subway up to 116th and back. Now I realize that sounds like not a big deal for someone who's lived in NYC for just about half of my 46 years. But for me it was huge.


I generally don't take the subway. For many years, well over a decade, I never walked down those dirty grey stairs, stood on those poorly lit platforms, waited for the rumble that shook the concrete under my feet. The bus is my transportation of choice. A cab. I can walk for miles. We have a car that I occasionally do more with than parallel on the opposite side of the street. Three or so years ago I took a deep breath and hopped on a train if there were no other options available. I had to be with other people. I had to be distracted. If the train slowed down, I'd get off at the next stop. This happened so rarely I could probably count the times on two hands.

But today, today I traveled alone. And was fine.

I figured if I can stare down my first operation, my first time being wheeled into surgery, my first anesthesia, giving up an organ that's been a part of me for longer than I've been on this planet and that I use on a regular basis, if I can handle strangers slicing me open, knowing I'll be in serious pain afterwards and will have a significant recovery, if I can accept that possibilities of all that can go wrong, then fuck it—the subway shouldn't be a big deal.

I'm learning to live in fearless.

Fearless to me isn't the absence of fear. I know myself too well—I'll never live without fear completely. But it's facing fear head on and not letting it win. Not making those excuses I so usually make. Not keeping myself out of situations so I don't have to grapple with the what ifs that I excel at making.

People who don't suffer from anxiety have no idea how hard it can be to be brave. To fight with yourself. To survive those internal battles. To breathe instead of panic. To function instead of freeze.

I've come so far. And this kidney journey is challenging me to challenge myself in ways I'd accepted were just the way I was.

But maybe, just maybe, that's not how I have to be.

Now I have to conquer doing a headstand in the middle of a room.

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