I can guarantee you, I did not expect to enjoy holding a snake. I thought it would be cold, slimy, and threatening and I would want to give it back immediately having removed it from my list. But it was cold, heavy, and charming. That’s right, I was charmed by a snake. The irony is not lost.
There are many items on my life list that scare me. Big snakes scare me. Yet, I have never had a snake look me in the eye, flick his tongue at me to warn me I’m getting too close. In fact, whenever a snake has crossed my path, it has moved out of my way. So why then am I afraid?
I did some studying on the fear of snakes. It may not be irrational after all, it might be evolution that makes my body freeze when I see those legless lizards in my path. In fact, studies suggest it might be an evolved state of fight or flight, and we have to unlearn the fear of snakes. Somewhere in the deep recesses of our mind, we know that snakes can be harmful and we should avoid them.
But then I held a snake. It gave me a sense of calm that I would never have anticipated. So much so, that I approached my family about owning a snake. That was a hard “no” for everyone else in the house. Neandrathals.
Holding that serpent taught me about conquering fear. Was it courageous even to grip the snake? It certainly took something I didn’t think I had to wrap that boa around my neck like a scarf.
Where else does courage come in to play in my life? Some might call being out on the internet exposed and prepped for judgement courageous. I think that is less courage and more “I don’t give a fuck anymore.” I might call it therapy. Say what you want about me, it just strengthens my resolve for life.
Some might say it is courageous to talk about my depression openly, but I think that is why more people should talk about it. Courage implies fear, and we should hesitate to admit we need help. The less we are afraid, the more we can learn, appreciate, and heal. To be fair, I was scared to talk about it at one time. I feared that my family would somehow be labelled as something other than normal if the neighbours knew I suffered. That was before I realised how ordinary it was for mental health issues to be affecting everyone in some way.
Brene Brown tells us that, “Courage and vulnerability are closely aligned, and the two qualities can greatly improve our lives.”
Admitting that those snakes scared me was the first step in improving my life, but it wasn’t about the snake. Fear can stop you everywhere. It can make you not love deeply, it makes you not try new adventures, it can make you feel your age. I will be tackling more of my fears this year, and it will be ugly, no doubt before it is beautiful. I will continue to share how it hurts, heals, and delights me to be out of my comfort zone so wholly and so regularly. All I need to calm myself down is hug a snake, and my life will be better. Now why my family doesn’t want one in the house is beyond me. Evidence family. It is all there for the squeezing.
My Turning 50 Like a Boss Tip: Tranquility can be found on the other side of your fear.
Check out the video: Cuddly Snake