Updated: Apr 22, 2020
Written by Solstice Community Solar
There’s a bridge in my hometown that the locals know well. If you’re not from the area you wouldn’t be able to tell this bridge apart from any other, and nine months out of the year its sole purpose is to allow traffic to cross the river (as bridges do).
In the warmer months, though, kids and adults alike watch the tide chart closely. Around high tide every day, parents unload cars full of kids in the adjacent lot and groups of twenty-somethings dock their boats and balance barefoot on the ascending rocks to congregate across the 30-foot-tall bridge, all in bathing suits. People of all ages line the railings, drivers honk as they cruise by, tourists on a seacoast stroll stop to revel in their discovery of a local tradition, and some daring souls watch for breaks in traffic before running across the street into a backflip off the bridge. Among the jumpers, friends heckle their timid pal and strangers cheer on the 10-year-old whose parents finally let her jump the big bridge.
It sounds like a charming tradition, right? Not for eleven-year-old me when I first went with my older sister and her friends. I remember the utter fear I felt as I wrapped my leg over the railing and flung my arms around it. A forklift couldn’t move me from that spot. I made a slight lurch, but in a split second my arms were entwined tighter around the railing than before. I was afraid. With a full bridge as my audience I felt the pressure to “JUST JUMP!” as they put it. But I didn’t. I climbed back over the railing, picked up my dry towel, and sulked back to the car.
Leaving the bridge didn’t feel good. I wasn’t happy with how I had reacted. Soon after I went back and made sure to JUST JUMP within seconds of climbing over the railing. Once I made the leap, the feeling that overcame me was so exhilarating and energizing that I jumped again, and again, and again.
I couldn’t change how tall the bridge was, but I could change how I thought about it. I started focusing on the feeling that precedes the scary thing. It’s not about the jump, but the triumph over it! Once you come face to face with fear and choose to keep going, you’re able to live a life where fear doesn’t call the shots.
I go back to that bridge every summer, and it’s never the jump I’m excited about -- it’s the reminder that I am bigger and more powerful than that which scares me.
Think for a minute of the COVID-19 as the jump. We’ve already climbed over the railing, locked our arms, and are facing something that scares us. Remember, it’s not the situation (the jump) that defines us. We can’t make the bridge shorter to ease our fears, but we can control how we react to empower us to overcome it.
Grounded grappling is something I use to help me when I’m feeling scared or anxious. It’s a simple shift in how I view my relationship with fear -- fear is not working against me, it’s working for me. Fear is on my team. Fear is a signal that growth is near and necessary. There’s somewhere I need to be, and I can’t get there without learning from whatever it is I’m about to go through.
At the moment, it’s hard to see where we’re being led, but there are lessons to be learned that can only come from seasons of darkness. Resilience is continuing to progress, regardless of the circumstances.
Chances are, you’re spending more time than usual at home. This can feel isolating, but it certainly has its advantages. In the age of constant stimulation, take this time to truly slow down.
Here are some ways you can invest this time back into yourself:
Read a book