I’m sticky with sweat. The wind rolls over my body and I stiffen. Bracing against the gentle breeze, fearing if I loosen for a moment it will sweep me with the autumn leaves.
Am I so fragile?
Is it the wind I fear? Or my inability to control it?
As a child I was afraid of stepping outside onto the deck atop the Cape May lighthouse. My parents took turns stepping outside with my younger brother while the other guarded me. They assured me I’d be safe from falling; that the harsh whipping of the wind wouldn’t tear me away from them.
They shook their heads in dismay at me. After all, the view of the shoreline below was the only reward for successfully navigating the unforgivingly steep, claustrophobic steps.
I couldn’t articulate that I was not afraid of falling, or being carried away by the wind.
I was afraid of throwing myself from the top.
Today I fear the sky is aching to swallow me up. I overestimate my importance. Were the sky sentient, a sweaty jogger probably wouldn’t stand out to it. I underestimate my endurance.
Were it so easy to wipe me from the earth, I’d have been gone long ago.
As my racing heart slows to accommodate my slower pace, I fear it will explode. I fear I will fall and never stand. I fear I am destined for tragedy. I fear the wind, the sea, the sky, and believe my body will inevitably betray me.
I calculate the weight of my good deeds and bad. I live in a world of measurements. I attempt to purge myself of fear while feeding myself with knowledge that fears it.
I leave no room for myself. I drown out my inner voice by honing in on the rhythm of my heartbeat.
I live in fear of myself. Afraid I will reveal to myself that I am a monster. Afraid that the reality I know will be undone upon that revelation.
But I am resilient enough to walk through a breeze. And more dependent upon the laws of physics than the fear manifesting in my mind.
Today I could count on myself to keep walking when I wanted to scream out to the sky to stop torturing me with its omnipresence. I turned away from the nagging superstition that enjoying a moment would damn me to an immediate death.
And I convinced myself that if I have been living the life of someone who lived in fear of a gentle breeze, I didn’t deserve to live at all.