My sister recently found this old picture of my very first ride. My family had just moved from Oxford, Mississippi to Boulder, Colorado. We lived in Boulder for the year that I was five, then moved back to the south.
What I remember about this ride is how I insisted on wearing a mini-dress and how the saddle chafed my legs. The age and stage of being five just means you dress inappropriately at all times, right? Out there, I wore pajamas to kindergarten on a regular basis – especially a certain green and white polka-dotted number with bell bottoms and a mid-riff bearing top. I loved wearing that outfit to school. Miss Cutey.
I also remember this big horse didn’t scare me. Was I uncomfortable with my pale little legs pinching against the horn? Yes. Afraid? Not that day.
Erica Orloff recently wrote a piece called Things That Go Bump in the Night, where she wrote about things that still scare her and asked her readers to consider how fear shows up in our lives. It got me thinking about how we learn to be afraid, and what makes us not afraid.
I remember just before we moved to Colorado, sitting on my grandmother’s carpeted stairs crying my eyes out and feeling very afraid of I don’t know what. Maybe scared of leaving Mississippi, of going some place new, of leaving my family and friends. My father comforted me by singing Walk On. He sang it with gusto until I felt better. About thirty years later, I sang Walk On to my daughter in the car on the way home from day care on a day when she, too, felt afraid and alone. I wonder if the thing that makes us not afraid is the thing that makes us feel not alone.
What makes you not afraid? What makes you feel not alone?