I Was Afraid to Fall

Summer with the Cole family means bowling.  Last year I got off my butt and learned a little about the game.  This summer at the bowling alley I had a new kind of insight that taught me something else.


I couldn’t understand why I was having so much trouble just getting the ball down the lane.  I’m a reasonably strong man, 6 feet tall, so why is a 12-pound ball bothering me?  Why couldn’t I use my strength to bowl consistently without choking and jerking into the gutter?


I watched my 16 year old son.  I thought about the abandon with which he rolled the ball.  Then it occurred to me that, if I did that, I might fall.


I had never thought about the question of falling before.  I knew I was afraid of falling.  But it never occurred to me that it was affecting my bowling.  


I was afraid to fall.  I was afraid to off-balance myself when I threw the ball.  I was leaning back on my heels, at least sometimes, and it was killing all my momentum and strength.


When I figure out what I’m afraid of, I try to face it.  When I went up next time, I decided I was going to give into the momentum and let it carry me over forward.  If I fell, I fell.


Just by acknowledging my fear, two things changed.  One, yes, the ball went faster and it didn’t hurt like it sometimes did.  Two, I started to enjoy the game.


I couldn’t wait to get up and bowl again, because suddenly I felt like I was playing.  It wasn’t work anymore.  I was just getting up there and having fun.


And I didn’t fall.  Of course I didn’t fall because who falls while bowling?  And if I had, I heard myself thinking, well, I could just get up again.


I started thinking about how I’m afraid to fall in everything.  I hold back, play it safe, try to shoot while leaning back.  The only thing I never held back on was eating sugar, which I always did with complete abandon, and which proved to be a poor substitute for letting go in anything else.


The take-away, the important thing?  I didn’t have to change anything to experience a shift.  I just had to recognize that I was afraid.


Because then I had a choice to play it safe or not.  Both choices are acceptable.  There’s a time to play it safe and a time to let it go, and many shades in between.


Until I could make the choice consciously, I was in conflict and I choked.  I wonder if it would be good to have this choice in every aspect of my life.  What do you think?

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