It was not a stop we planned to make, engrossed in catch-up chatting as we strode the two blocks to lunch. Truth be told, I didn’t even notice the thing. But on the walk back, after that gut-dumping, heart-baring, soul-wrenching conversation, it called to me like the giant street-level billboard it is.
Good Lord is what I thought as we both turned abruptly and scampered across Columbia’s Main Street without so much as an insinuated question mark passing between us.
Look at that I said.
I am a person who relies heavily on her friends, let me just say that right now. Were it not for the wisdom, spirit and generosity of the women who surround me—who have always surrounded me—I would have been a soul adrift a long, long time ago. Instead, my life is filled with smart, and beautiful, and courageous, and for that grace I am humbled and thankful.
On this day, it was time for a long overdue reconnecting with my most fearless of friends, the magnetic Lorie Gardner. We took our seats across from each other at Hampton Street Vineyard, the perfect lunch spot, and as she quietly lifted the napkin to spread it across her lap, I hurled:
THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS I WANT TO TALK ABOUT. I’M SO AFRAID I’LL MISS ONE, LET ME JUST LIST THEM FOR YOU NOW.
Her eyes smiled at me as I nearly gasped for breath, and then came her familiar and spirit-lifting Lorie laugh.
I know how you feel Lorie said. I know.
It was a phrase she repeated many times over the course of our lunch as we discussed with abandon Life and Age and Anxiety and Time and Being Present. I moved us quickly from topic to topic, so afraid that heaven forbid I’d get back to the office and remember something we forgot to discuss. In no time we made our way to Fear, the topic most on my mind, the current voice in my head as demonstrated in the story of sea kayaking at Edisto Island (shared here in The Only Thing To Fear Is.)
Here’s my strategy she offered, my fearless friend, the one whose spirit I try to summon when facing down a terrifying prospect.
I try to stay ahead of fear. You have to get out in front of it.
And I knew without even considering it this was a Lorie Life Truth, a game-changer that had come to me on this day, at this time, with intention; a little gold nugget to carry with me as I move through my 50s and 60s and 70s and 80s, a time in life in which many of us get to choose what we want to do, only to find ourselves terrified to do it.
Stay ahead of the fear.
And then she came out with this.
Let’s go do the Ropes Course at Riverbanks Zoo. It’s three stories high. Yes, the Ropes Course. (ever so slight pause) What do you think about that? she said smiling.
And then on the way back to her office, strutting down Main Street as if I’d just discovered the secret to eternal bliss and fulfillment, we catch site of the installation and my breath leaves me, again.
And then I spot this.
Heaven help me, Ropes Course here we come.
Who can even imagine what will happen next.