I remember hearing a story about a monkey who came across a glass jar full of colorful stones. Being a curious monkey she reached in to take some. With her hand inside the jar she realized she wanted more than one stone so she filled her fingers with all she could hold. When she tried to pull her hand out, it was stuck for her hand now bulging with stones was too big. Not wanting to let go of any the monkey’s hand remained stuck in the jar.
I feel like that monkey. My hand is in a jar full of stones. But instead of trying to take all the stones, I want to choose the right one, the perfect one. My hand is stuck in the jar while my brain swirls with questions. Should I take the smooth one or the one with the translucent color I love? Should I pick the stone with the familiar oval shape or a mysterious one I can’t quite get a hold of? It’s not comfortable living with your hand inside a jar but I am paralyzed by the fear of pulling out the wrong stone and leaving the best one abandoned at the bottom.
Just make a choice I tell myself. Do it. Pick one and be free from the delicate jar weighed down like an anchor around my wrist. I see the calm gray blue stone I yearn to choose. The stone that gives voice to the words bottlenecked in my head and the dreamy ones circling waiting to land.
The stone whispers, “I want to write. I want to immerse myself in words. I want to be on a first name basis with the thesaurus and dictionary. I want days where words flow like warm water over my hands and meal times come and go forgotten. I want days where words cling stubbornly like a sunburned child refusing to leave the beach. I want to mold and form words until they tell me they are done. I want to release words freely into the world without expectation.”
But fear is a tricky bastard. He comes masquerading as a friend with only my best intentions at heart. And with each question whispered in my ear I feel the weight of worry harden like cement around my feet. He whispers questions lovingly like, “What if you hate it?” “What if no one cares what you have to say?” “What if people get angry at your words?” “What if your words wither like leaves before they fall?”
My hand has been trapped in this jar so long I’ve almost forgotten what it is like to wiggle my fingers freely. Fear’s whispers will never be silent, but it is time to choose. Butterflies begin to flap their dusty wings stirring up nervous excitement. For what if I love it? What if I never run out of words? What if I am strong enough for criticism and praise? What if I was always a writer and had merely forgotten? What if I can spend each moment being true, authentic and bold?
So with every possibility of brilliant success or humiliating failure I curl my fingers around the stone and pull my hand free.
Stone painting by Sharon Maynard