I have always been a woman with reservations. I am the Queen of the "what if." I am a Master of the "If, then" scenario. My head is perpetually filled with concerns, caveats, disquiet, and--not infrequently--foreboding. I spin out the stories in an attempt to wrest control of the narrative, and between you and me I am not really great at telling a yarn with a happy ending.
I guess you could say that I've long been an agonizer.
Oh, I've simply jumped into some things, sure, and on this, the anniversary of a split-second decision so profoundly stupid that I am still mortified by it, it becomes very hard to argue against always...ALWAYS...playing it safe. The fact is, flying by the seat of my pants gives me a touch of motion sickness. Being daring gives me a wee tummy ache. The old saying goes, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." And with all due respect to the man who penned it, Friederich Neitzsche, you're an asshole. That which does not kill us sometimes just comes damn close to effing killing us. Unless by "stronger" you meant "able to put on your game face and stumble through life for a while," you're dead wrong.
But at the ripe old age of holy-shit-am-I-really-that-close-to-50 I'm starting to take inventory of some of those lost chances; those once-in-a-lifetime-act-now kind of offers. I've still never been to Spain. My joints may not stand up to a mechanical bull at this point. I may have missed out on the kiss of a lifetime. While some of my spur of the moment choices may make me cringe now, it is the fact that I am hell-bound and determined not to make them again. I'll probably make, like, a million of other ones, but sooner or later I'll run out of bad decisions, right? And then there's this: while I may have failed spectacularly at that job I may have still learned something from it. I may have gotten lost travelling alone, but met someone fascinating while asking for help. I may have been eaten by a bear on that strange path, but....okay, there's really no upside to that one.
Being brave is, in part, about overcoming that frisson of fear in the pit of a girl's stomach. Being brave is standing up straight even while her legs are shaking; throwing open her arms even when all she wants to do is bury her head. But being brave isn't just doing, it's also feeling. "Courage" means "from the heart," and it's something you feel deep down inside at your very core.
I don't know if one should necessarily take advice from a piece of chocolate. I'm sure that "Show up without a reservation" was just another focus-grouped Oprah-worthy saying that some 25 year old marketing genius came up with. I can come up with 20 reasons why it's stupid just off the top of this fretful noggin of mine. But maybe it really is time that I stop worrying about the plan and just arrive. Maybe it's time that I stop trying to edit the screenplay and just watch the fucking movie. Maybe it's time to throw caution to the wind and let myself get swept right off my feet. And if it's a spectacular failure? If I fall on my ass? Maybe that's just in there for dramatic tension. I mean, there's always that point where things seem hopeless for our heroine, right before she pulls off the seemingly impossible and saves the day. (Cue swelling orchestral music.)
"Show up without a reservation." No. No Haughty Dressed in Black Hostess Lady, I didn't call ahead, but I can squeeze in pretty much anywhere, and I bet it'll be great.