This summer, Eliza bought herself a 1997 manual Rav 4. It needed some fixing up, so for a few weeks, it lived at her friend Ben’s house, where they tinkered with it. On our family road trip back up from Southern California in June, Eliza got word from Ben that the car was ready to go and so we dropped her off to drive it back home. Hazel hopped out to join her and Kevin and I drove the 20 minutes back to Berkeley. An hour later they still weren’t home. Do you think she knows how to drive a manual car? I said. Surely she must!
Two hours later they returned home. As it turned out, she didn’t really know how to drive a stick shift; had only done so once before. But two hours and plenty of stalling later, she knew now!
I’ve thought about this episode a lot since June. The confidence with which she hopped out of our car and into one she didn’t how to drive is the kind of confidence I want to channel when I’m doing new things that scare me. Like this Alcatraz swim.
As soon as I climbed into Angie’s car for our trek to the Albany Bulb this morning, she began to unleash her fears about Saturday’s swim. Normally a calm and optimistic person, she was overflowing with worst-case scenarios (I suspect she spent the night googling some combination of Alcatraz, swim, and disaster). In the face of her anxiety, I felt relatively calm, which is one of the funny things about fear: It’s as if only one person in any given situation can occupy the position of ‘the terrified one.’ For each of her fears, I countered with evidence that she was prepared to face it. She is ready. We all are.
It was a morning of magical light and color, which helped further tamp down the free-floating anxiety. Sheila joined us for an easy swim to the big tree.
It was choppy and fun.
Angie, for whom rough wild water is at the crux of most of her fears around the Alcatraz swim, seemed to feel good about it, too. She said she followed the advice in the email from Odyssey (the group that’s organizing our swim): “Be determined and confident.”
So that’s the plan. I’m going to channel the energy of Eliza smiling as she climbs into a car she barely knows how to drive. With confidence and determination, I’ll be jumping into that water on Saturday.