Lest it appear that I’m completely “self-realized” and “there” with the “new me”, I wanted to capture right now, in the moment, my feelings of abject terror as I’m about to see a group of the parents and students in my school for a “Bonus” Class, scheduled about a month ago, on Listening and Improvisation. Mostly it will be listening, as each participant has been instructed to bring a song that they LOVE from any genre of music whatsoever. They must then show – without using words – how the music makes them feel, or something about the music that’s meaningful to them.

I’m trying to choose among three possible songs for MY participation in this exercise. It’s not easy when you actually get up there to do it! I’m trying right now in my office, so I know.

The feelings of terror subside when I start to move my body. Amazing!

But I remember vaguely what they are. First, what will people think of me wearing JEANS? Looking like I might look in my normal life? What if they decide I’ve lost my marbles and they decide, en masse, not to continue enrollment? (I have fears of the desire to leave spreading like some kind of virus…starting with me) What if everyone laughs? (Well, that actually would be a great thing!)

In short, I fear judgment and rejection. I seek approval and being liked. I’ve only ever operated that way, without really knowing how deeply it permeated, only because all the rewards I received were so pleasant to the eyes and ears. I happened not to find approval and being liked from a bottle of alcohol, or overeating, or shooting up with heroin. But the emotional basis of the activities – while these may seem like extreme examples – have the same root cause. I happened to gravitate toward socially acceptable things like climbing the imaginary status and respect ladder, living in the right ZIP code, and having a job that didn’t put people off too much at cocktail parties.

Like any addict, I’ve had relapses. I tried to break free several times before in my life, only to find myself right back in some kind of race I didn’t realize I’d registered for.

Just yesterday, before stepping onto my yoga mat, I had a brief moment of clarity in which I realized that a key thing I’ve let go of recently is the expectation that someone else’s life was going to show me a blueprint for my own. Or that making someone else happy was going to bring me a sense of fulfillment in my life. That’s a HUGE letting go because it’s governed so much of my thinking (or not thinking) in the past thirty-three years. If I just did everything like [fill in the blank of the person I idolized at the time], everything would turn out fine for me. I’d be safe, at least.

I never dared take the time to imagine – really, to dream from my own blank state – what my own life might look like if I trusted myself. It’s been a fine balance to realize that isolating myself is not the answer, but rather engaging with love in the world, doing things that I truly love (this is a discipline in itself) will bring me in closer and closer contact with that place inside me that is already free.

May that force be with me tonight! Facing fears….