I was at the top of a water slide yesterday afternoon at Yucaipa Regional Park. My eight year old had just launched himself down without hesitation. I thought he would chicken out. Two girls I knew looked surprised at me and asked if I was really going down. I’m not sure why they questioned me. Other adults were going down. I told them I wasn’t scared of anything. One nine or ten year old girl said she wasn’t scared of anything either. “What about spiders?” I asked and she announced that she had killed a black widow when she was six. The fact that it had been with a vacuum cleaner didn’t seem to diminish her bravery.
The interesting thing is that just an hour earlier I had a six-year old reprove me for being afraid of the water. I tried to explain that I wasn’t afraid; it was just that the water was cold. I was content to stay on the shore and build a sand castle. She was trying to pull me into the water and the thought of being deep in cold water did not sit well with me. Was I afraid? Not of drowning, no. But that icy feeling when cold water sucks your breath away? Yeah, a little.
Earlier that afternoon I had gone and sat in the backyard and ate raw Top Ramin® noodles out of the package. Our chickens all came over to investigate. One of the bolder ones jumped up on my lap and tried to go after the package in my hand. I enjoyed feeding them bits of my raw noodles and at one point had two chickens on me, even one on my shoulder, while the others circled around me all staring in their curious manner and waiting for another pale noodle crumb to drop. Olive the hen was not discouraged when I pushed her off and would pause a beat and then jump back up. In the midst of the experience of almost being smothered by chickens I thought that if someone had an unnatural fear of chickens this would be the definitive nightmare. I can see how someone might be legitimately afraid of spiders and that afternoon with Olive and Amelia hopping up on me, pecking at my shirt and staring at my face while the rest of the ladies hung around at me feet, I could appreciate if someone had a fear of chickens.
I had a friend who was attacked by a rooster once. Her face got scratched up in an unprovoked attack. When I was sympathizing with her days after she calmly told me it was okay. “I’m gonna eat that chicken,” she declared.
Now that’s an attitude I wanted to prosper in me. Whatever gets the best of us, instead of being afraid of it, eat it for supper. Maybe it’s better to say, use that experience to benefit from it, let it nourish you. Then move on be a better person. I might be pushing this analogy too far because I don’t think anyone would want to eat just anything they might be afraid of for breakfast. (I could justify my analogy by saying that my past week’s blogs have been too serious and I’m just trying to pass off something light.) But I came away from that talk about her eating the chicken with a genuine inspiration. Resolve to rise above what might try to conquer you.
So yesterday afternoon I launched myself down the waterslide. It was completely dark most of the way down. I could feel the fast motion going down and water all around me. Being like shot out of a gun or being born, maybe it felt a little like both. Then daylight ahead and I hit the cold water of the pool. I was so disoriented the lifeguard had to tell me where to exit. I was coughing water for awhile after eating some for desert. But after building a cool sand castle, eating a nice supper and more caramel corn, this waterslide was still the best part of the visit. I’m glad I wasn’t a chicken.