STANDING ON THE LEDGE

“I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but almost always end up where I need to be.” — Douglas Adams

This past week was one of those extraordinary spring weeks that gives you the taste and hunger for the serenity that being outdoors in the warmth and sun that spring and summer offer.   For those of us in the northeast, they are sublime days where you are desperately ready to shed your winter wardrobe, put on a pair of shorts, a t-shirt, flip flops and sit in the sun.  I live for days like that.  The feel of the sunshine on my skin is one of the most glorious sensations.  Even as a kid I loved laying on the beach, lathered up with baby oil, letting the sun bake my skin.  Of course, back then I did not realize the wrinkles, freckles and potential cancer I was risking with this practice.  But, I am a reckless child of the summer.  I was born under the sign of cancer and I embody the characteristics of my Zodiac sign:

“…The Cancerian character is the least clear-cut of all those associated with the signs of the zodiac.  It can range from the timid, dully, shy and withdrawn to the most brilliant…It is a fundamentally conservative and home-loving nature, appreciating the nest like quality of a secure base…in which the Cancerian woman can exercise her strong maternal instincts…’Nest like’ is an appropriate adjective for the Cancerian home, for its inhabitants tend to favor the dark, mysterious but comfortable type of house which has something of the air of a den about it, a place which belongs to the family rather than existing as a showcase to impress visitors…For [Cancers] there is a time to socialize and a time to be solitary, and this is part of the apparent contradiction in their nature…Outwardly they can appear formidable – thick-skinned, unemotional, uncompromising, obstinately tenacious, purposeful, energetic, shrewd, intuitive and wise, sometimes with a philosophical profundity of thought verging on inspiration.  Their intimates, however, may see a very different character, one with a  sympathetic and kindly sensitivity to other people, especially those they love…In their personal relationships they are mentally a mixture of toughness and softness, often emotional and romantic to the point of sentimentality in their fantasies; but in real life and in marriage, their loving is not so sentimental but tenaciously loyal…[They] love unreservedly, giving much and asking little in return – in fact, one of the most important lessons they have to learn is how to receive gracefully…They are also loyal friends…The Cancerian has many potential faults.  They can be untidy, sulky, devious, moody, inclined to self-pity because of an inferiority complex, brood on insults (very often imagined), yet are easily flattered…As they are interested in what people are thinking and able to judge what they can be safely told, they can be good journalists, writers or politicians, though in this last capacity they are more likely to remain in the background rather than attain prominent positions of power.”

When I read that description, I can’t help but debate the merits of nature vs nurture and wonder if I was predestined to be the person that I am.  It is unbelievable to see myself come to life in the words being used to describe what might be 1/12 of the human race.  Are we all so incredibly similar?  The description seems quite specific and I have to wonder how much of the struggle and joy I experience was predetermined by when I was conceived and the moment of my birth.  Am I actually sabotaging myself by resisting the plan that was conceived long before I took my first breath by taking such great effort to continually swim against the tide?
During this beautiful week I spent a lot of time thinking about destiny.  I do take comfort in believing that there are certain plans in place for us and our journey is to continually uncover the new pieces of the story.  It is like a scavenger hunt where the clues are mysterious but, if you read them properly and decode them, you will be able to quickly identify the item and its destination.  If I pay attention closely enough, I will be able to determine if I am on the right course.  At the same time, I believe that we have many options in life and, perhaps, multiple tracks we can take but there is no doubt that when something is right, you know it.  Everything is aligned, the energy is strong and you become consumed with the positivity that comes from it.  You have deciphered your clue, found your item and are richer for it.
When I met my husband 20 years ago, I knew immediately that he was meant to be in my life.  My own insecurity and other issues that I traveled with at that point in my life definitely restricted my ability to trust my instincts but I could not deny how strongly I felt about the connection I had with him.  I have had a handful of experiences like that in my life and those individuals, whether or not they ultimately stayed a part of my life, played a critical role in propelling me forward on my journey.  When my husband and I became a couple, my fear and vulnerability forced my hardness to the surface while inside I was falling deeply in love and knew that he would love and protect me in the way that I needed to be.  However, he will tell you that I tried to pawn him off to my friends and suggested that he run fast in the other direction.  And, perhaps destiny played a role because he was intent on not going anywhere.  He trusted his own instincts far more than I trusted mine and he stuck around, knowing that he had uncovered the clue to a critical item in his scavenger hunt.
These days, I am a bit more confident about my instincts and, as a result, I tend to take more risks and sometimes feel like I am living life on the edge.  My experience in life is often like standing out on a ledge and balancing on one foot with nothing to hang on to and no sign of how to get back inside the building.  There is something quite appealing about this place because it feels daring and bold and it is in this spot where the true test of life happens.  I am never satisfied in the mundane, routine nature of life.  Despite the fact that I love predictability when it comes to people and relationships, I love the energy that comes from a new adventure or the potential big rewards that come from taking big risks.  Yet, as my Zodiac sign suggests, I am a constant contradiction.  I still worry and experience great anxiety about the riskiness of my life but I cannot imagine living any other way.  I am not a crazy adventure-seeker who likes to take physical risks and, in fact, am highly fearful of heights.  Last week I was driving across the Queensborough Bridge and was on the outer roadway and nearly had a panic attack from being out on the edge of the bridge and seeing the water below.  If I was not driving, I would have had to close my eyes and duck down to calm my fears.  For me, risk and adventure is emotional and comes from pushing myself to my limits.  It is about digging deep within myself and testing my strength and fortitude.  It means developing a deep belief in myself and what I am mentally capable of creating or tolerating.  I am not entirely sure what this means about me or what about my personality or my life makes me inclined to enjoy this lifestyle (and I am sure some very keen friends of mine will try to dig into that aspect of my being really soon) but I know, without a doubt, that it is a pre-destined aspect of who I am.
So, what does all this mean?  Perhaps it is all comes down to trust.  Trusting myself and the choices I make and having the courage to follow my destiny.  I put a great premium on trust when it comes to the people in my life and maybe my fear comes from forgetting how important it is for me to trust me.  I know that I have high standards for myself and do not ever cut myself slack.  Maybe my anxiety about standing out on the ledge is that, while there might be some others standing at the ready to hold my hand or even pull me in, I am forgetting that the only person who can really catch me is me and trusting that I am not about to let myself fall.

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