Lighten Up

on September 10, 2010 in Misc

You know, trying to live the exciting life of a heroine in a thriller should be a lot of fun.  It should be a hoot.  It should be something to boast about or laugh about or even shrug off like it’s no big deal.

warrior monk

So why do I keep taking everything so seriously?  Not just my Layla plan, but anything I seem to do anymore?

Take last night in fencing.  I got through class okay and afterwards had a private lesson with Bob.  Bob is one of those cool older dudes in his late sixties (I assume) who has such extraordinary skills and blade control he could whip just about any young opponent who dares to go up against him.  He always stays calmly in control and practically Zen Buddhist monk with his in-the-moment presence of mind.

Me?  Think his opposite.  Not a pretty picture.

Bob had to tell me several times to relax (like fencing teachers Nathan and Henri also tell me) because as usual I was trying to anticipate his moves and getting anxious and tense.  That’s not good for several reasons, one of them being that when you tense up your neck and shoulder muscles go rigid, which in turn throws off your aim with the weapon.

“Fencing is fun!” Bob reminded me with some exasperation.

Damn straight it is.  Yet in every lesson and bout it seems that my natural response is to feel as if I’m in some kind of life-or-death final exam.  I am being tested and I had better not fail.  I had better not make a fool of myself.

I mean, I haven’t been in school in years.  Okay, decades.  And I was a pretty good student.  Yet more and more these days I realize that my immediate emotional response whenever I challenge myself is to tense up and feel a cold, small dread that I’m being tested and about to screw up big time.  When I went skydiving, paragliding, wall climbing – hell, you name it – that fear flitted like a nasty little bat across my consciousness. 


There have been points during this last year when I really did start to feel more like Layla, which means being more confident, more direct, more clear-headed and less uncertain.  Unfortunately, I  never fully realized before now how deeply imbedded this fear of screwing up is in me.   Time to get over it — WAY over it.

I wonder how many of us could do spectacularly well at sports or intellectual endeavors or a chosen profession or whatever if we just got out of our own way?  What’s especially silly in my case is that I invented Layla and my Layla plan.  It’s my game and I make up the rules.  This means I can do as I damn well please in it.  I can even decide that I’m winning.

Hence as of today, I’ve decided that I’m winning brilliantly and I can only let myself stay in the game as long as I’m having fun.  When I stop having fun I’ll gather up my toys and go home and think of something else to play.

2 Responses to “Lighten Up”

  1. Hart says:

    Oh, Helena-you need to relax and feel the force! I can see taking something like fencing seriously though–it would be hard to just give in, but I bet if you COULD then things would flow more smoothly. It’s hard though, isn’t it? Letting go when we care…

  2. Helena says:

    Hart — It IS hard to keep emotions in check. Maybe like you say the key is not caring so much — I just concentrate on having fun I might even have a breakthrough.