Just like fire, burning up the way
If I can light the world up for just one day
Watch this madness, colorful charade
No one can be just like me any way
I heard the words as I crooned along waiting to make a right on to the highway. I felt cheerful. Scratch that. I felt accomplished. A few minutes earlier I had stood in a corner of the gas station wrangling with a long tube that pumped air into my car tires. I had set the PSI, removed the hub caps and gone around filling each tire with air until the machine beeped. Then I had gotten in the car and felt a high rush over me.
Not a big deal you think? It was until it wasn’t. Most of my life I have watched my Appa handle the wrench, use the spanner, use teflon tape and suction out water to remove air from our water pump at home. I’d stand by handing out tools and on rare occasions help pour water until the bubbles were out and then run to start the motor. I learned to use the drill in my late thirties. I still will pay someone to hang up my decor and stain my fence. Most of it has been fear. Fear of mastering something unknown. Fear of hitting a power line. Fear of making things worse.
Then there were the little things. Like being unable to drive with foot wear on. I learned to drive using bare feet and rued the loss of feeling when I had my shoes on. I loved feeling the accelerator respond to tiny changes in pressure from my feet. I loved hearing that thrum, the subtle shifts in power. Yet, this fall, I set myself a challenge. I made myself wear my shoes each day I dropped Laddu at school. Now it is second nature. The wins are insignificant. Yet, they matter.
Five years ago, I saw the TPMS (Tire pressure) indicator light up on my way to vote for the first time as an American citizen. The roads were slick from ice and snow. I had just left home when the indicator came on. I pulled over and googled. Nightmarish scenarios were described in graphic detail on the woes of driving with less than optimum tire pressure. I turned around and drove back home. I waited until the weekend before the spouse went and got the tires filled. Each time the indicator turned on, I felt the jitters. Then it happened when he was away in India. I drove around from gas station to gas station trying to find one with a working air pressure machine. The high that came from getting such a simple thing done lasted the whole week. This morning, I was tempted to drive home, to shelve it for another day, another person. Instead I ploughed on and returned home humming and smiling.
Hanging up my jacket my eyes fell on a pair of rain boots. On impulse I slid them on and went and jumped in the puddles in our driveway. I watched earlier in the morning as my children splashed and laughed. I felt too grown up to join in the fun. I felt the reticence I feel when I watch other people dance, make strides in their career and win over new friends. As the water sloshed around my shoes and the ripples bent my reflection out of shape I realized all that prevented me from doing what I want is my head.
Mind over matter. Small wins matter. One fear at a time.
I shall conquer. Like a boss.