Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Second Letter


Here is the second letter I promised:

“Dear Cheri,
I was in the TTFG [It’s Time to Feel Good] online class, and I learned a lot. I admit to dragging my mind/feet about getting the small recorder from Radio Shack, but I did it and regularly recorded and listened. It changed everything. I had no idea that the ‘voices’ in my head were not me, but either a young sub, or from a source that didn’t ‘wish me well.’ I knew the little recorder had worked for me in guiding me on a new path, but I had no way of knowing how it could literally put me on the right path, and save my life.

I have been taking road trips with my dog the last couple of years. To have a vacation together was the first priority, but what started to occur became uncomfortable. I found that traveling alone to unknown places, I started to experience fear. Fear at highway interchanges, fear at large city rush hour traffic. I recognized the young sub that experienced my mother running out of gas. I still find myself filling up when the gauge is halfway. But all the planning failed me two weeks ago.

I had printed out directions, but was trying to hold the shaking paper and read and remember them before each turn. It was almost impossible not to mention dangerous, as I would sometimes swerve. I missed a couple of vital exits, and found myself over a hundred miles out of the way before I found out, not to mention low on gas. I felt intense panic at being lost on the road when I was supposed to have already arrived at my hotel. I was afraid to drive at night and night was approaching. My heart pounded as I pulled over to the side of the road. I scrounged through my accessories. I had packed that little recorder! I was sweating, and I recorded the fear stories, and then waited for my mentors reply and listened. And then my mentor gave me an idea. Slowly, track by track, I read the directions into the recorder… each road I needed to take, each turn I need to make. I took a couple of deep breaths, played the first new track and started to drive. I could play it over and over again to remember. Once accomplished I would hit the arrow again and my voice guided me to the next exit, the next turn. I felt my little sub start to relax as she heard my voice calmly giving directions, as if there was a passenger sitting in my car. I finally pulled into the hotel parking lot two hours later, and cried tears of triumph. My mentors voice, my voice had guided me in just as surely as if it had been an air traffic controller for an inexperienced pilot. This little device saved my life in several ways.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, ‘Do a little something every day that scares you.’ I think she knew what happens: when you don’t run from fear, you grow. Fear’s rawness is still within me each time I leave home, the ‘what-if-this-happens’ thoughts. But this time my mentor was my road companion, and I am truly grateful! Thank you again for the class, the insistence about the recorder and the guidance!”

This intrepid practitioner has captured practice beautifully, wouldn’t you say? I’m most grateful for this message of courage and triumph. Thought you might enjoy it as well.

In gassho,

1 comment:

  1. Gassho, Cheri. Thank you for sharing these two inspiring stories. I take inspiration from the first because I too am often bamboozled by my "glass-half-empty" voices. The irony of complaining about the food at a Zen awareness retreat made me laugh out loud -- oh my, where to begin indeed -- and reminded me about what awareness practice is for. I was amused and saddened as well that the comments were made anonymously. Such a contrast to today's story of real courage and creativity in the face of debilitating fear. This story reminds me about how unbelievably powerful the mentor is -- how unbelievably powerful each of us can be when we let the mentor in. It inspires me to pick up that recorder again, which I am sad to say I haven't done in some months, with predictable consequences. Thank you, thank you.