Find your own, unique voice – and then say something!

February 21, 2010

I used to be afraid of snakes. Really, honestly and deadly afraid. A thought, an idea that there could be a snake somewhere in the house (if I read a story, or saw a movie with snakes in it) would be enough to scare me to death and keep my legs up and away from the floor for hours. On the main street of the town I live in there are people with snakes sometimes. They bring the snakes in big plastic containers, take them out and let people touch and pet them. I would always keep an eye out for the snake people, making sure to cross the street as soon as I saw them. I couldn’t walk by them. Sometimes, when I’d forget to pay attention and walked to close to the snakes, I would freeze for a moment, then turn around and walk away as quickly as I could. Few days ago I walked down the main street with my husband. The snake people were there. I noticed them and realized that I could walk by them, that the fear wasn’t coming, the paralyzing terror was not showing up. We walked towards the snake people, closer and closer, and still I felt that I didn’t need to run away. I told my husband that I didn’t feel afraid, and he said: great, let’s go then, and walked straight to a lady who was holding a snake, rolled up in a little ball in hear hand. I followed, stopped few steps away from the woman. I felt that this was enough, that it was a huge achievement for me, just to be these close to a snake. The woman came closer, she wanted me to hold the snake, I jumped away. She wanted me to put out my hand, but I wouldn’t. It was terrifying, I wasn’t ready to be this vulnerable with a snake. Instead I extended one finger and touched it a little, on it’s back and on it’s belly. The snake didn’t move, my husband was holding my hand. I was breathing fast, I felt like one does when walking into a cold lake, deeper and deeper into a cold water. The body is in shock at first, tense and ready to jump away, then, slowly, it relaxes, ready to take the plunge. I was not relaxing yet, my body was in shock. Being this close to a snake, this intimate with it, was to much, too intense. I could not hold it, could not stand it, I could not stay present – so I started talking. I asked the woman about the snake, it’s breed, it’s age. As she talked, I relaxed. I felt safer somehow, the talking, mind stepping in and organizing the situation, made me feel safer, calmer. The connection with the snake, the presence of the animal, was not as intense, not as clear, not as immediate. I put my mind and the words between us, like a shield. I felt safer behind it. When the woman asked me to put my hand, palm up, on her palm, I did. She promised me that she would not remove her palm until I was ready, then she put the snake into my hand. I held it. It wasn’t moving. It was rolled into a little ball, looking at me with it’s black eyes, and the woman removed her hand. I held the snake and felt no fear, though my body would not relax. I was breathing too fast, hyperventilating, I begun to feel dizzy and handed the snake back to the woman. I felt faint, I didn’t want to drop it. My husband gave the snake people a donation and I walked away. It took me a while to come dawn, it took my body a while to relax, to let go of the adrenalin, to come back to normal. It was a big deal for me, holding the snake. A big deal that the fear which was always there was now gone. I thought about it a lot, and my thoughts would come back, again and again, to the moment when I could not stay present with the snake, and I talked. It was a big deal for me to hold a snake, and yet I felt I missed something. I missed the real, direct experience, the full experience of the presence of the snake – because I would not stay present, because I started talking. Talking was a distraction, protection. It did not encourage relationship, rather it put a distance between me and the snake, it separated us. Because of fear, I talked. I do feel sometimes that I could feel so much deeper, be so much more present, if I didn’t speak. And yet, it is not speaking itself that is getting in a way, I think. It’s not the language, words, that are distractions, that diminish the experience. It is how I use the language. It is how, and when, and why I speak. I can talk to protect myself, to distract myself, to remove myself from an experience, to keep myself safe. Or I can find my own, unique voice – and then say something. I can speak words that create reality, that are who I am. Then there is no distinction, no separation between me and the words I speak. Then I can say the word – and the world will change. Didn’t God create the world with a word?

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