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Flare

I’ve told a lot of stories on this blog about why this blog exists. They’re all true. Even if they contradict each other, they’re all true. Humans are stupid like that – we’re clumsy walking paradoxes.

But one reason, which I think I’ve held closer to my chest than the others, is that I think I wanted this to be my flare sent up from the mountainside. I am here. I wanted you to know my name, who I am, and where to find me.

The problem is, I was also kind of scared to be found. And that is probably the main reason this endeavour has never pushed beyond partial execution. It has remained incomplete. Not because it’s barely read by anyone (which is true), but because only a relative minority of these posts are at my edge. And I’m still quite likely, if I write something that scares me, to keep it in drafts rather than hit publish. I’ve been holding back.

I worry that, if I alert you I am here, you will look. And if I show you who I am, you will see. And if I’ve told you my name, you will remember it. And there’ll be no going back after that.

The other day, I went ice skating with my son. I’ve only ever been ice skating once before, decades ago. Stepping onto the rink, the lack of friction was alarming, and I couldn’t recall how to properly use my limbs. I stayed to the side, gingerly holding the rail, so I could feign stability. But, inevitably, Makaloo wanted to venture out into the open with his dolphin-shaped ‘skating aid’. I had a responsibility to follow.

He led me away from safety, and I hated it at first. But then, a few seconds in, I realised I was fine. It was fine. I can skate well enough to stay on my feet. And I skate better when I’m not holding onto the railing. I just needed to let go. And maybe I wouldn’t have, if he hadn’t given me no other choice. Maybe I would have spent that hour a coward, never testing my actual competence.

Have I spent the past six years a coward, never testing my actual competence? Probably. At least in one particular sense. And likely far more than one. But I cannot hold the railing forever. If only I had someone to lead me into the open.

I’ve chosen the mountainside. I know, in my heart of hearts, I can’t go back – I have to stay out here. I’m terrified that, even though I know that, I won’t. That I will miss out on the life I am destined to lead, because I’m too much of a coward to embrace it. That I will trudge back down to the tourist trail and sell souvenirs.

But I am here. At least for now. At least today. And I will try to find a way to remain. I will try to find a way to go deeper. And I will try to find a way to let you find me exactly where I’m most supposed to be.

What is the place you have chosen? And how are you honouring the choice?

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