Just go there…wherever “there” is.

Sunset at Sheridan Lake. Photo credit: Brittany Higginson

I was sitting on the porch of a lovely log cabin on the banks of Sheridan Lake, taking in Loon Bay—a blue jewel of water, surrounded by emerald forests—the location of my family reunion. Birds chattered and called, and a soft flow of happy campers and relatives drifted past, walking dogs, carrying fishing rods, and chasing toddlers. It was one of those perfect moments and all I could think was, I can’t believe I had cold feet and wanted to duck out on this lovely lake holiday. What is my glitch?

While I was thinking on this—my bizarre habit of dreading events that I know I will love once they actually happen—my cousin’s 11-year-old son, who I’ll call H, popped into view. He was gently tugging my aunt’s stubborn little black dog, Petey, on a leash; Petey was tugging back, not as gently, in the opposite direction. H tried to urge the dog on, whispering kind, encouraging things.

Petey sat down, then leaned back, straining in the direction they’d just come as hard as he could.

H picked Petey up and carried him a few steps, but Petey, in squirmy resistance mode, made travelling very far that way impossible.

Visibly disappointed, H set Petey down again and resumed trying to beg, bribe, and coax the dog down the road.

I said something ridiculously obvious like, “Trying to take him for a walk?”

“Yeah,” H said glumly. “But he knows the way back to his campsite and as long as he can tell where it is and where Auntie T is, he won’t quit trying to stay there.”

I commiserated and H finished wistfully, “If I could get him to the forest trails, he’d forget about the campsite and he’d have fun. He did yesterday.”

With that, H was off again, valiantly continuing his quest to cajole Petey into enjoying a new adventure. “I’m sorry, I know this is kind of mean,” he whispered—then threw a dog treat a few feet, only to snatch it up and toss it again just as Petey ran forward to get it.

This strategy worked for a few metres and they disappeared from view—but Petey quickly caught on to the trick. A few minutes later he reappeared, high stepping at a good clip in the direction of “home.” Behind him, shoulders slumped, face a picture of dejection, came H.

Maybe I’m a bad person, but I had to laugh. “I take it you couldn’t get him to the forest?”

H sighed heavily. “No.” Then, as if talking to himself not to me, he muttered, “If he’d just go there, he’d like it.”

They went on their way, Petey continuing to prance like he’d taken first prize in some prestigious dog show, H wearing a Charlie Brown look of resignation.

I couldn’t help but feel there was a lesson for me in the dog’s ridiculous behaviour.

All too often, despite knowing how I end up enjoying and benefiting from them, I waste a lot of time worrying and feeling anxious about upcoming parties, workshops, conferences . . . or pretty much any event that pulls me out of the comfort of my homebody ways. Like the little curmudgeon Petey, I balk at new opportunities and dig my heels in when confronted by change.

Unlike Petey, however, I’ve learned that avoiding the discomfort of the unknown only leads to disappointment.

When I let myself be tricked by the seductive comfort of “safe” and familiar and fall prey to the temptation to hermit myself away, I am always sorry. Not going, not trying, not taking the unknown path, feels like failure. Conversely, I never regret—and have never regretted—pushing past my anxiety, fear of failure—and any other neuroses I have—to tackle new-to-me terrain in my social life or work life. Even when a situation, event, or journey “fails,” I feel stronger or better for having tried. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

I know I’ll have failures of nerve in the future. I’ll keep working through them though, perhaps with a modified version of H’s muttered admonition to Petey: “Just go there. You’ll have fun. You’ll love it, actually.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

“Just Go There” by me, Ev Bishop, was originally published in the Terrace Standard, August 3, 2018 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.”

 

7 thoughts on “Just go there…wherever “there” is.

  1. I have struggled with this same problem most of my life. It is so hard to actually move forward out of my comfort zone. It takes so much effort and angst, and luckily for me, some encouragement from someone else. OK, maybe sometimes a lot of encouragement. I’m glad to know that someone else – especially someone I admire – is in the same boat as I am. And finds success. It’s such a great feeling when you do.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Poor Petey. I occasionally walk an elderly neighbor’s dog and he often behaves just like Petey. I have to pick him up and carry him away from her house and then he is fine and will walk with me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. LOL, ButtonsMom. I did (do!) sympathize with poor Petey, but at the same time, it’s so hilarious because he is so pampered and so safe that it’s easy to see (and, as you can tell from my thoughts, LOL) how his nervousness is…unwarranted. 🙂

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  4. It’s so nice to know I’m not alone, Marjorie. It really does help to know others are in the same boat we are, doesn’t it?

    >>>’m glad to know that someone else – especially someone I admire – is in the same boat as I am. And finds success. It’s such a great feeling when you do.<<<

    TOTALLY (and thanks. 😊 😊 )

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  5. There’s another glitch that I suffer from. It’s that little voice that says, “You don’t deserve this.”
    It has a lot of variations, most of them untrue or at least over-inflated. (You can’t afford it. You have too many obligations at home. You can’t abandon your responsibilities.)

    When I finally do get away, I relax and realize it was the right thing to do.

    Like you say, “Just go there.”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I TOTALLY have that glitch too, Vello. (So many glitches, all of the time–LOL but also…siiggh!) But hey, we’re both learning to work through them (Ignore the voices!), so go us.

    >>>When I finally do get away, I relax and realize it was the right thing to do.<<<

    Yep. 💖

    (Also speaking of going there…as in here…can't wait for your visit!)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sounds like you’re speaking to the choir! I too would much prefer to stay tucked into my cozy comfort zone. Yet each time I stretch and put myself out there, whether it’s hand-selling at a market, or sitting on a panel at a convention, I’ve found it valuable and dare I say, even pleasant. Glad I’m not the only one.

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