“You can do it! I know you can! Look, it’s only this far,” I reassure, holding my arms out to give him a reference to the horizontal distance. He shakes his head no. Despite his overwhelming desire, he can’t make his feet move. Over and over he backs up the length of the picnic table and runs only to stop cold at the end. In his heart he is jumping. In his head he doubts.
To me, it’s so easy to see that he can do it. He has easily cleared that distance many times on the ground. But up there it’s different. Up there are things to fall off, onto and through. He has all the right ingredients; beautiful blue sky, a gentle breeze blowing off the Adirondack Mountain Lake, an encouraging mom, a picnic table and a gigantic flat-topped rock. However, the tiniest speck of doubt outweighs them all.
This incident came to mind last night during a conversation with a friend. The conversation bounced here and there, but eventually turned to me and my writing, or more accurately, my lack there of. While we don’t chat often, said friend always encourages me & asks if I’ve been writing. Last night I was in a particularly open mood and confessed that I still struggle with doubt. The realization takes me down a notch and reminds me of something from my childhood; something I haven’t thought of in years.
No matter how far I’ve come, at times I am still a 10 year old girl. The one who wants everyone to listen her recording of Christmas songs, but is told no one wants to hear them. And that realization isn’t pleasant. Haven’t I gotten over it? Haven’t I paid time and money to be healthy, to be happy with whom I am? The woman I am today knows in her mind that the comments weren’t meant to do the harm they did. The mother in me knows that a large, family holiday gathering isn’t the best platform for a tape recorded recital. In my head, I understand. In my heart I am still 10, and it still hurts. I have let ancient negative thoughts paralyze me.
So I wonder. Why is it so easy to see self-doubt in other people while turning a blind eye to it in myself? When will I get over it? And then I think back to a day last summer when I watched my son finally take a deep-breathed leap, throwing his hands up in triumph. And I begin to get it. No matter how old we are or how far we have come, believing in ourselves is still a daily choice. A perfect setting and good intentions can never take the place of actually doing. When I am tempted to give in and let doubt win, I will remember the conquering smile on Griffin’s face and tell my heart to jump.