By Liz Hazell
I have a cat named Jade.
Actually she is one of several, but she’s my favorite (Shhh…don’t tell the others!). She is gloriously chubby with beautiful green eyes. She is a rescue from the ASPCA. She was pregnant and a stray, was rescued and had her kittens. After they weaned, she continued to nurse other kittens.
She’s maternal, like me—a mother to all creatures.
She’s also afraid of everything. When she first came to us, she hid. Long story very short, she ran away during a winter when we got several feet of snow and I thought we’d never see her again, but she came back. It’s been three years and she’s just now warming up to the other members of our family.
Patience is often rewarded if we put up with the waiting.
The funny thing about Jade is that even though she’s a pretty smart cat, she will only come in through our front door. The garage door can be wide open and she’ll walk past it to get to the front. It’s kind of a pain in the ass when I’m ready to leave and she runs past the garage, forcing me to walk back into the house, unlock the front door and let her in, and then re-lock it and head back to the garage.
How often are we afraid to walk a different path? How often do we walk through the same door even though other avenues are available? Even though those avenues may lead to the same place?
Fear holds us back from so much.
Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of making a mistake. Fear of walking through a different door and ending up someplace completely unfamiliar. Change is hard, but the old adage “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got,” is true.
Now, if you like what you’ve always gotten, there’s not a problem. Why shake things up? Some people don’t like adventures. Some people like to drive the same road, eat the same food, keep the same lover and wear the same hairstyle forever, and they are perfectly content.
The trouble arises when you’re not content.
When you’re in a bad relationship but you can’t summon the strength to leave. When your declining health means you need to change your diet and start exercising but you don’t know where to begin. When you hate your job but don’t have the skills to do anything else. That’s when walking through a different door can be daunting. Frightening. Overwhelming.
But what happens when you try something new? When you step out of your box and greet the world with a clean slate? Without preconceived ideas or notions, without judgments or fears. Okay, maybe a little bit of fear.
Like Jade, we always have two choices. We can keep running to the front door and know what to expect, or we can take a chance, walk through the garage, and peek into the kitchen. If we’re lucky, we have a loved one encouraging us and telling us it’ll be okay. Someone to pick us up and carry us when we get too scared to go it alone.
But sometimes we have to take a deep breath, assess the perils of our new route home, and make a run for it.
Liz Hazell is a labor doula and certified breastfeeding educator. The mother of two children and caretaker of all. She reads, writes, knits, meditates, feeds stray cats, and grows vegetables and flowers. She laughs too loud, cares too much, is loyal to a fault, and hopes that the world will be peaceful someday. You can read more from her at her blog, Dharma Sister.
*this article was originally published on Dharma Sister.
Editor: Daniel Scharpenburg