Earlier this week, my husband Derrick was lucky enough to witness an act of such genius and bravery that he was still laughing when he walked in the door after his drive home. And as soon as he was out with the story, I completely got why. While (sadly) we don’t remember every glorious, freewheeling moment of our childhood, anyone who remembers even a speck of it will understand the courage involved in such an act.

So Derrick was standing in the elementary school lobby, waiting for our son to locate all his scattered items at his after-school program so they could go home. As he waited, he watched a group of mixed-age boys gather for a game of hide-and-seek. As always, there was a serious discussion of rules and regulations before the game commenced. Anywhere was fair game for hiding, but of course no one in their right mind would go in the…gulp…girls bathroom.

Rules discussed and warnings made, off they all went to hide. And Derrick stood and watched as the youngest of the group, a kindergartner, surveyed the door to the girls bathroom, took a deep breath and walked right in.

Man, it took them forever to find that kid. No one even considered looking for him in there, because no one sane would even think to go to such a horrifying and cootie-filled place. Our young hero finally emerged, victorious and cackling with a slightly-manic giggle, as though he had been to the edge and back.
And, for a kindergartner, I suppose he had.

I’ve been thinking about this kid all week. He brings to mind a quote that I saw once, because he illustrated it so literally.

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Everything you want is on the other side of fear. – Jack Canfield

How fantastic would it be, to be a person who:

  • Even when you’re the smallest, or feeling the smallest among people who are older, faster, smarter, bigger – still joins in.
  • Even when you’re the smallest, among people who are older, faster, smarter, bigger – are confident enough to think for yourself.
  • Even when you’re feeling small or not-enough, takes a deep breath and faces fear in order to see what’s beyond it.

I know for sure that the things we most want ARE on the other side of fear, because I’ve been testing the theory lately, and it’s brought me a surprising amount of happiness. I wrote a few weeks ago about my decades-long break from swimming because of that thousand-mile walk across the deck from the locker room to the pool. Well, I did it, and have kept doing it for weeks now, and it gets a little less scary every time. I’m even getting to be friends with some of the Old-Dude-Hot-Tub-Club that I have to walk past on my way. Swimming feels like home, and I regret that I’ve missed it for so long because of fear.

I’m going to keep our little kindergartner in mind while tackling some of the rest. Perhaps I’ll picture the next large party I enter as behind that bathroom door. I’ll make small talk (without dying, hopefully) and emerge, cackling maniacally like I’ve been to the edge (or the snack table) and back.