Fear the Dog? Embrace the Fear
My cat gives some advice
Marsie the Cat: Let's talk about fear, human.
Marsie: Yes. Again.
Me: I'm just afraid of so much stuff.
Marsie: You're afraid of failing, of being vulnerable, of exposing yourself to the world, am I right? Or worse - What if nobody even notices you? Or worse — What if there is suddenly no catnip in the house?
Me: How do you know so much?
Marsie: I am a cat. Therefore, I know all things. Plus, I know about fear. But I don't care. I live my life. Look at this photo. I am on the dog bed and right there - it is the evidence that the dogs destroy things! That was a perfectly good owl toy and it is dead now. That dog has jaws of steel and could eat me in a second for daring to be on her bed. But do I care? No! I still claim the dog bed. You, human, need to claim the dog bed.
Marsie doesn't understand that sometimes it's hard to claim the dog bed. I wrote about this on Instagram awhile ago because I was thinking about one of my grandmothers.
She wrote so many poems and made so many paintings that she never let anyone see.
She couldn’t handle the scorn. But she couldn’t NOT create things.
She was afraid of the ocean, thought it was this massive, beautiful deadly force.
Men can be like that too sometimes, she told me. I don’t know why we are expected to be so strong. Why must we be so strong and vulnerable?
I was like ten when she asked me that so I didn't have an answer.
This painting is inspired by one of her paintings that she left unfinished. I don’t know if she had copied the original or if it was her own, but the woman walking across a realistic earth, approaching the sea all huddled and afraid and then reaching out for the unreal sky makes me think of her. Afraid but reaching out.
I am not an artist. I have absolutely no training at all except for a high school art class, but all I want to do is paint.
I am not a great philosopher, but still I'm compelled to share what I think.
I sound like a Muppet and slur my s's, but still I'm making podcasts and I'm in charge of a really intensive online writing class that forces me to talk on video to 12 people every month. And the whole time I think - I am so afraid to do this. People will hear my voice and laugh (not in a good way).
All these things scare me so much.
And every time I write a book, I think:
What if nobody reads it?
What if nobody likes it?
But life and creating is all about vulnerability. It's about saying yes to experiences even though it's so scary. Yes, just writing a blog post is scary to me because it's vulnerable. You can do that, too.
Really. I’m not very exceptional at all, but I try to become better. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I have to make my cat talk to have a blog post, but that’s okay. Because it’s something.
You are something, too.
So, maybe think for a second:
What is it that makes you vulnerable?
What is it that makes you scared to say 'yes' to things?
Because here's the thing (cue meditative Stuart Smalley music from that ancient SNL skit): You are enough. You are good enough and real enough and authentic. Your story matters.
And if other people don't see it? Their loss. What matters is that YOU see it.
Marsie is right about that. Not so right about the cat nip.
Seriously, this is what happens when you have too much cat nip.
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