While I don't suffer from any paralyzing fears, I do have a few sticky wickets I wrassle with on a fairly constant basis. One is a fear of unwarranted incarceration. While this fear is usually triggered by some random brush with authority (just seeing a police car upends the hairs on the back of my neck), I think I live with a low level of it all the time. And when life gets a little stressful, I know I'm bound for a repeat broadcast of the long-running nightmare where, after a brief trial complete with slo-mo judge's gavel crashing down to an accompanying basso "GUILTY!" I'm cuffed, hauled off and thrown behind bars that slam shut with a creaky, noir-ish clang. When I lived in New York back in the 1980s, I had a fear of getting bonked on the head, losing my memory and winding up wandering the streets with my shopping cart, so crazy I couldn't recognize my own face on the "missing" flyers, so filthy and worn with exposure that no one else could, either.
But my biggest fear (outside of rats eating my eyeballs, thanks a lot, George) is of winding up the female half of a calcified couple like the one I saw at a Palm Springs Denny's almost 20 years ago: more lonely together than I could ever be alone, my style frozen in time, my hair frozen, period. Of course, I know exactly from whence this springs*, I am not now nor have I ever been a daredevil. In fact, what I'd really like is for everything to stay exactly where it is so I can keep an eye on it, and no tricky stuff, either!
Knowing my predilection for stasis, to prevent ossification, I at least semi-regularly try to hurl myself into some perilous venture (acting, blogging, marriage); a couple of times, I've even hurled myself from an airplane (not bad, but really, a bit de trop around the edges).
I know I'm doing something good for me if I get a little of that vertiginous feel when I'm doing it. Walking to my first sewing class I felt mildly excited, but running fabric through the machine for the first time, my fingers mere millimeters from a mechanized needle, I felt my glucose level plummet. Likewise the first time I popped open the door on my G4 to tinker or traveled solo.
Sometimes I take to the change like a duck to water (Geek, meet Computer; Computer, Geek) and sometimes it takes a few trips up the coast to make the dizziness go away. Regardless, I figure the exercise keeps me flexible and the Alzheimer's at bay so like the kids say, it's all good.
Yesterday, however, it was great. With a capital G-R-E-A-T.
I'd run into my friend, David Bickford, at a New Year's Eve party. We'd just closed a show before the holidays and were discussing upcoming theatrical ventures. He's always got some new play going at his theater, but I'd already decided to sit out the next few at mine to work on my own show, #1 & #2, which my writing partner and I are in the midst of turning into a musical.
"A musical?" cried David, who is an excellent musician. "I didn't know you wrote music!"
"Neither did I," I cracked, because really, I don't.
"What do you compose on?" he asked, curious, since he's facile with guitar and piano (and several medieval instruments, too, no doubt).
"Um...I sing into a tape recorder and bring it to Rob or O-Lan," I sighed, because I do, and it makes me feel like an unempowered loser. "I wish I could learn enough piano to compose on."
"I teach piano to beginners!" he cried, following it up with several examples of students who were playing serious classical pieces after only one year starting from zero knowledge whatsoever.
So we hammered out some details, and I made my long & winding way up the canyon to David's little studio yesterday morning. The trip was harrowing, the parking, terrifying (he lives on one of those canyon "roads" that's really more like a bike path) so I was good and dizzy by the time I wandered in. And despite getting an inspirational mini-recital from the aformentioned classical novice (who really is excellent), I was still pretty spinny from all this left-hand/right-hand, don't-look-at-either-of-them drilling (which David did in the nicest of possible ways).
But when we busted out the guitars so he could show me how the scales actually worked, how they were the same no matter what instrument you picked up, how it was mathematical and logical and beautiful all at once...well, I could have grabbed his face in both hands and kissed him smack on the lips. Because while it wasn't all completely clear yet, I had that thrill of Getting It, that exciting peep under the tent at what things would be, could be like a year from now if I kept at it, of the world that might open up to me if I opened myself up enough to let it.
I was so happy, I felt like my heart might explode.
And you know, I wouldn't have been afraid if it had.
UPDATE: *Oh, god. No pun intended, truly...groan...