If we should fail?
But screw your courage to the sticking place,
And we’ll not fail.
What do you do with uncertainty?
Recently, I resurrected a long-dead dream…Grad School. Following my undergraduate degree, I’d been offered a chance to pursue a Master’s degree in a lovely place along the eastern shore. Later, as the kids and I adapted to our new family-ness, I passed another Grad School opportunity along to focus on our family and healthy forward progress. It has not been an easy yippy skippy road, but it was so worth it to have the relationships we have.
In the years since, the idea of Grad School died a sad death starved of funds, hope, time, and energy.
Dead. Buried. Pffffffffft.
And then I loved with a whole heart. Lost that love. Grieved as messily as I ever had (finishing that up soon, I trust) and discovered the fear of staying put which eclipsed the fear of failure…and the unknown.
The fear of staying the same was worse than the fear of the unknown.
And it moved me towards change.
With healthy doses of nudging…loving kindness…patience and financial vulnerability, I moved forward.
First with the sale of a photograph to a friend to test the waters of my discomfort.
Then an invitation to share an art pop-up shop with photographs I’ve taken to test the market viability of selling my work to help pay rent.
A few more asks for help and long walks or runs in the chill.
Encouragement came from campus folks and others along the way.
The day I wrote the application letter and finished the process, I was shaking and sweating buckets. Buckets.
Now I must enroll…tomorrow.
Time to ensure all of the paperwork is correct, the financial aid folks know my name, and all has been done in order as expected.
What do you do with uncertainty?
I put the word out of what I hope to do and rely on the accountability of words spoken.
Research the hell out of what I should do next until I am utterly confused and overwhelmed.
Stress out and begin.
Pray for help, ask for help, and plod through.
But what do you do with uncertainty?
Lady Macbeth – when asked about the prospect of failure – says, “But screw your courage to the sticking place, And we’ll not fail.” Experts debate what Shakespeare may have meant about screwing courage to the sticking place. Shocking, I’m sure.
“The OED suggests that Lady Macbeth’s original words refer to the twisting of a tuning peg until it becomes set in its hole. The editor of The Riverside Shakespeare, on the other hand, suggests that a ‘sticking place’ is ‘the mark to which a soldier screwed up the cord of a crossbow.’ Whether the metaphor is musical, martial, or otherwise, Lady Macbeth’s meaning is obvious though her words are obscure: ‘tighten up your courage until it is fixed in the place necessary’.”
So what can we do with uncertainty…to become unstuck and move forward? According to a dead English guy – and I’m using the paraphrase here – we tighten up our courage until it is fixed in the place necessary (for action).
What does that mean to you?
Do you have an illness that is kicking your butt and is hard to pin down? My friend and her daughter do, too. They read and live and collaborate to reveal the daughter’s magnificent artwork to an audience socially connected. Their necessary place for courage is in their Colorado life of dogs, miniatures, imagination, and family.
Is your dream to travel or marry or learn or teach or explore or serve or guide or create…or sleep? What is the necessary place for you to begin and to tack and tune your courage? Surely you have an idea-a maybe.
Tell someone. Ask for help. Hell, ask for prayer. Sweat buckets and wobble your way forward. Contact me. I’ll hold your hand or pray or sing loudly for all to hear.
Are you afraid of living the same Groundhog Day life you’ve bumbled back to again and again with fostering success for other people’s dreams and fighting the fear of failure and the unknown?
Join me. We’ll move forward with whatever derring do we have at the moment and duct tape it to the place necessary. We may have to move our courage around a bit, but we cannot stop. When we stop and give up, we lose and the world loses our contribution of art, love, thought, mechanical brilliance, organizational wizardry, and laughter.
We must nurture our derring do, call for reinforcements, talk to a counselor, run off the worry, bake up a batch of comfort to share, and whatever else it takes for us to get unstuck.
Sing loudly for all to hear if you must.
It is good practice for the next bits of living we are sure to encounter: the lovelies and the losses which make life real and keep it a mystery.
Do the thing your ego tells you not to do. Ask for help…for prayer, maybe, or a strong cup of coffee.
In asking will lie your greatest seeds of derring do for the road ahead.