How I became a mermaid (plus the art of Roxanne Coble).

Well, my goodness. I’ve been a little absent lately because I have been busy falling madly in love. If you’ve done this (and god – for your sake, I hope you have) then you know how it pushes and pulls your life into something completely new. Strange and wonderful how it comes out of nowhere and turns your life inside-out in the most fantastic ways. And it’s also absolutely terrifying.

I’m ten years old and my toes are curled and locked around the very edge of the high dive. I’ve been standing there for so long that my toes are numb. All eyes are on me – the instructor in the water waving and shouting yet again for me to jump or move out of the way, the snaking line of kids behind me impatiently waiting to prance lightly to the end of the diving board and slice into the water as if it requires no effort at all.

I’m poised between wide open sky and that deep, deep water. I’m small and shaking and I have no reason to think that I will pull this off successfully because I have failed so many times at this already. In fact, I’ve never done it successfully even once and I have tried more times than I care to admit.

But I breathe and I hope and I find a sliver of something strong inside. Mysteriously, this thing clicks into place. I bend my knees and push off. I plunge, lose all sense of direction and connection with ground, eyes closed, heart pounding.

And suddenly I’m at the bottom of the pool and pushing up toward the glittering surface. I’m a mighty mermaid, a badass creature of the sea. I want to do it all over again as many times as possible.

It wasn’t even a great dive. It was mediocre at best, but it was a place upon which to build and then I practiced all summer, getting a little better each time. I loved diving. More importantly than the dive itself though, was the idea of being brave enough to push past the fear and the knowledge that something unimaginably powerful and unspeakably glorious may lie on the other side of the interface. What possibility! It was a lesson I’ve never forgotten, although I’ll admit that I have struggled with the actual implementation throughout the years.

Yep. This is what I’ve been doing for the past three weeks – throwing my unprotected heart out there on a daily basis. It’s been exhilarating and illuminating. Unnerving.

You may recall a recent post in which I discussed my desire for relationships which are both deeper and looser at the same time. A lofty goal.  A difficult balance, to be sure. And not something one can do alone in the romantic realm. It requires a like-minded partner to pull it off successfully and it’s not for everyone. Even the idea scares some people.

Recently, I opened up the aperture and promised myself that I would recognize this kind of love when it held my hand and touched my heart. I would not require hard definitions or confine it with secret expectations. I would be as brave and true as I could possibly be and I would do my best to be present every second of the way.

When I say that I’ve intentionally crossed the barrier between the fear and the fantastic, understand that I did it with as much awareness and wisdom as I could muster. I didn’t do it blindly, but with a clear idea of what I wanted and who I am at this moment in my life. And I did it knowing that there is a very real possibility of being hurt along the way but that this is a price that I’m willing to pay.

And so, when I stumbled across this person, he being not what I had expected at all but so much better in every way, I did the wisest thing possible – I jumped. I didn’t even hesitate.

Because this kind of love is always a good idea.

It’s that place in which we can practice pouring our souls into another. It shines a light into the corners of ourselves that need a little sweeping and dusting. And if we do it right, it’s the solid ground on which we can build our better selves. It’s also a lot of fun. 🙂

Why am I telling you this? Because I want to encourage you to look for these places of fear and walk through them to the other side. Because I wish for each of you deep love that holds you up and pushes you to new places. Love that surrounds you at night and makes you feel safe. Most of all, love that looks you right in the eye and loves you anyway.

And for the record, I’m feeling exactly like a wild and beautiful mermaid again.

The artwork throughout this post was created by the beautiful and talented Roxanne Coble. You can find her here and also as part of the knock-your-socks off Life Book 2016 lineup.

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