The Native American Shaman leads the way and as dusk falls we head deep into the wilderness.
The fear that I’ve been trying to suppress now breaks free and surges through me with a cold terror that escalates with every step.
I would have preferred not to know that the recent rain is likely to bring out the rattlesnakes.
Finally we reach the place where I’ll spend the night in the Colorado forest completely alone for the culmination of my Vision Quest experience.
My stomach rumbles, empty from the fast that prepared me for the Sweat Lodge Ceremony which cleansed me from the inside out like never before.
The moment has arrived.
The Shaman leaves.
I’m alone with a small flash light, a bottle of water and a sleeping bag for company.
Every sound triggers a sharp intake of breath as I imagine a rattlesnake approaching and my pounding heart responds as if it’s true.
What if that happens? What will I do?
I have absolutely no idea.
The temperature drops as the darkness closes in and it feels like time stands still; yet hours pass.
A Significant Choice
Eventually I lean my rigid body back against the nearby tree. A solid trunk supports my back and towers above my tiny form.
Not long after, a realization bubbles up and I know there’s a significant choice for me to make; to remain paralysed by the fear of “what if…?” or to set myself free by looking it straight in the face, and simply letting go.
In that moment, it feels like invisible arms reach out from the tree and wrap me up as I take my first deep breath for what seems like forever.
As the exhale follows, tears of relief stream down my face. I feel infinite gratitude for the tree’s ancient strength and drop into a deep surrender that washes through me and calms the inner storm.
I find myself in full acceptance of all that is; including the possibility that a rattlesnake may come at any time.
What if it does?
I still don’t know what I’ll do.
Yet having made a conscious choice to set myself free from the fear of “what if…?”, at last I’m able to let it be and immerse myself in the moment of being here, now.
I lift my gaze and notice the magnificence of the clear night sky full of sparkling stars.
A shooting star streaks across the inky darkness; then another, and another… and from one extreme to the other, I enter a state of extreme bliss where separation dissolves and all is one.
Finally I’m ready to receive a vision and between the worlds of night and day I’m transported to a different realm.
In due course, the first hint of light signifies the return of the life-giving sun.
I stand in deep humility to greet the day and my heart overflows with appreciation for the enormity and grace of my Vision Quest experience.
This story is about a specific kind of fear that taught me an immensely valuable lesson that I’ve applied to many different situations ever since.
The principles can be applied to other types of fear including creative fear which is usually more subtle yet equally powerful and can block a free creative flow indefinitely unless addressed.
When it comes to writing, there’s a long list of possible fears that lie at the root of ALL creative resistance such as, what if I…
- Feel judged?
- Am criticized?
- Fall short?
- Am ignored?
- Become famous?
- Am not good enough?
Creative fear takes many different forms and often masquerades as something else or lies just below the surface of your conscious awareness to avoid detection.
Struggling endlessly to decide on a topic, procrastinating to avoid getting started and/or never completing anything are all forms of creative resistance based in fear of one kind or another.
You Have a Choice
When you’re not happy with the progress you’re making as a writer or indeed with any other creative, business or personal project, pause to reflect on what’s really going on.
It’s likely that you’ll discover fear somewhere in the mix.
As soon as you realize this, remember that you always have a choice; to remain paralysed by the fear of “what if…?” or to set yourself free by looking it straight in the face, letting go and finding the support you need to do so.
What will you choose?
What “what if” fears do you need to set yourself free from at this time in relation to your creativity, your writing or any area of your life? Please share your reaction and comments below.