The Potential In Scary Moments
I had a moment at the airport yesterday where nothing was wrong but I was scared to death. The great Tibetan teacher Pema Chodron talks a lot about the places that scare you (she even has a book by that title). The airport is someplace that scares me. Pema’s invitation, and the invitation of all of mindfulness, is to see if we can stay, in a moment when something scares us. Not turn away, not deny, not run. Not collapse. Just stay.
I’m not thinking about moments where we’re in physical danger and can protect ourselves. We should do that, when that happens and we can. I’m talking about paper tigers. Irrational fears. The time I was defending a motion for nonsuit, and lost, in front of the client: my loneliest courtroom moment. The time a senior partner made me lie to a client while he held the phone to my ear. The time I hyperventilated on the way into class because I was so afraid I didn’t understand the material I was about to teach.
What are the places that scare you? Can you be there for them and with them? Or are things more nuanced: sometimes you can stay, but sometimes you run or hide? I wish I could stay every time. But the truth is, I’m a long work in progress.