Taylor has made tremendous progress over the last year. After learning to crawl and walk in her walker, she has become increasingly more motivated to navigate and move around in her environment. She recently started pulling to a stand and can now cruise around furniture. We have been spending a lot of time on the playground this Spring and Summer and I have been encouraging her to crawl through these massive tunnels on the playground.
At this time last year, Taylor was not mobile. Any activity on the playground was either highly assisted or initiated by me. This year has been totally different. Taylor still needs some assistance navigating around the playground and climbing on equipment, but she is attempting to do more independently and definitely exerts her opinion and preferences.
When we first approached this large tunnel, Taylor was fascinated....crawling up to it, touching around the entrance, and examining the roundness of it. She cackled watching me crawl to the other side and found my game of peek-a-boo to be hilarious, but she had ZERO interest in crawling through that tunnel. The few times she began to make her way through the darkness, fear would overtake her; she would freeze and begin to cry.
I imagine the entire experience is very strange and different for her….
The tunnel is dark and confining.
She can't see anything around her as she slowly moves from one side to the other, and since she's never done this before, I'm not sure she even realizes there is another side???
All she can see is the light at the end of the tunnel (and my obnoxious face trying to encourage her).
I suspect she may have felt trapped or stuck once inside…..
It is in small moments like this where I am reminded of some of life’s big lessons. Because, sometimes in life, everything around us seems dark. We feel stuck in our circumstances and paralyzed by fear. It seems as though life will not get any better because we cannot always see to the end. Some tunnels are longer and darker than others. Some are like mazes and send us in so many different directions.
When we choose to enter into the unknown, we always know there is at least one way out….we can always turn around and move toward the comfort and safety of the familiar, OR, we can forge ahead, through fear and uncertainty, to see what is on the other side. We can choose to view the tunnel as an obstacle, a complication, or a problem, OR as an opportunity to explore and discover the world in a new and exciting way. We can view it as a part of the journey.
You see, we can not be strong and brave without feelings of fear…..one does not exist without the other. The very definition of bravery is the “quality or state of having or showing mental or moral strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty,” and strength only comes when we push ourselves beyond what is comfortable. Fear and discomfort are not feelings we should push away or simply "get over;” they are normal and appropriate feelings; feelings which serve not only to motivate us, but also to protect us in times of crisis. When we stop trying to fight against or run away from fear, we learn to embrace it….to move THROUGH it
Taylor eventually made it through that tunnel. It took multiple tries and she was scared. She looked to me for some extra support, but ultimately, she moved through her fear and uncertainty to get to the other side.
What tunnels are YOU moving through right now? How are you allowing fear and uncertainty to paralyze you? How have learned to move through that discomfort?