An Exhilarating Fear

It’s late on another Tuesday night and I’m sure that one of these days I’ll get to bed at some sort of suitable time for someone rapidly approaching 40. But that night won’t be tonight. I’m too keyed up. Today was the last day of summer school with the kids, and as such it was bittersweet in almost every aspect. Bitter because I did grow fond of several of the students, the ones who tried hard and had a pleasant “good morning” for me most days. Sweet because of the other ones, the kids who liked to swear and pretend it just slipped out, for the sneaky ones I didn’t mind watching leave today and knowing I wouldn’t have to see them again tomorrow. Let summer begin!  Well, the last two weeks of it anyway.

Mostly I’m happy on this Tuesday, though, because while it is an ending of sorts it is also a beginning. See, you may not know it yet but I set the end of this summer as a kind of dividing line between my life as lived with my life as future. Since I am rounding the corner on 40 I guess I need a career. At least people tell me I need a career so I’m going to work on that come hell or high water. And I hope it’s hell because water scares the piss out of me.

But now comes fortitude, and perseverance, because I have no real path to follow. Sure I’ve done my research, and it’s ongoing, but there’s a thin line between research and what will actually work, what will actually be fulfilling for me in the real world. Because that’s where I live, not in the fictional place called Research Land, but in the hard brick and concrete jungle of Reality. And what’s going to work on paper isn’t the same that will carry me through in reality.

And I’m afraid. I’m afraid that if I step out on this limb it will break and I will fall to a fate more horrible than death, that this risk will haunt me more than this stale place I find myself in now. But nothing good ever comes without risk, without that rush of knowing that the is no place to land if you fall off that tightrope, nowhere but the cold, hard ground. And that feeling, that exhilarating fear, is what keeps you moving forward. Because it’s better to try and make it to that far ledge than to cower in the relative safety of your familiar corner.

I don’t want the familiar anymore. I want to make things happen. I hope they will be good things that move me forward but even if they aren’t they are still guaranteed to shake up the status quo. And my roots need shaking.


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