Fearlessness and Freeing the Anvil


When I was a child, I was sure that I knew how to fly. I flew in my dreams all of the time. It was so effortless, so vivid, it had to be real. It was like swimming through air–as if I was so buoyant I couldn’t stay tethered by gravity. Something simple kept me bound to the earth. Once I figured it out, I’d undo the knot and head for the skies. If I could fly, surely I could do almost anything.

The almost got me. I learned about power and politics and started to see the limits of possibility. I learned time wasn’t infinite and that I could be lost and broken. I learned how to fear.

Every so often, I’d still dream of flying. When I’d wake up, I’d feel like I was missing a limb; some essential part of me had been replaced by an anvil that had “I can’t do that” etched in its side. I ached for weightlessness.

I have friends that choose a theme for the year, like hopeful, or gratitude or present. I suppose it’s like setting an intention after meditation. If you set a course for where you want to go, you’re more likely to get there. As I’ve said before, I’m a goal junkie. So I’ve chosen a theme for this year.


Embarking on any career in the shadow of turning 50 isn’t easy. Embarking on a writing career is lunacy. Doing both at once is a swan dive off a steep cliff. To write is to open up your soul every day, lay it out on a table and call the world over and ask for their opinion. Writing isn’t the only vocation with that property, but for me, writing exposes my vulnerabilities more than consulting or research did.

Yet, I feel more at peace.

I could be sensible. I’m an experienced business professional. I have connections, a solid resume, a history to draw from. Being sensible is the last thing I want. I’m tired of dragging that anvil around everywhere I go.  I will have the audacity to be fearless.

Eating a box of chocolates is my usual way to tell the world “screw you, I’ll do what I want.”  We all have a personal box of chocolates, that self-defeating, self-limiting thing we do to try to convince the world we aren’t afraid of what it was throwing our way. Instead, I vow to un-learn the lessons that hold me down, to remove the anvil of can’t and fly.

It’s a big sky out there. Join me.

Words by J. B. Everett

Photograph by Ken Bosma © 2008 Creative Commons

10 comments on “Fearlessness and Freeing the Anvil

  1. Veronica Roth says:

    Oh right on Jeannine! Lately I’ve been told that I have to narrow my focus to one discipline to succeed, (with my blog, with my life) Forget it I say. I want to write/photograph/paint and not exclude two to focus on one. I want to be all over the place with my blog and not focus on photography or poetry or…whatever. There are plenty of others narrowing their focus; I’m not one of them. I’m in and joining you all the way.

    • It all depends on one’s definition of success, I suppose, and the motivation behind your work. Focus is a more direct path to a destination. You certainly get there faster if you make a beeline. If it’s not the destination you want, however, what good is it?

  2. “To write is to open up your soul every day, lay it out on a table and call the world over and ask for their opinion.” YES! You have put into elegant words why writing can be so frightening. As soon as I taste a small bit of success, I back off, afraid of opening up myself to the world anymore than I already have. Must get over this.

  3. I like this. I too have often dreamed of flying, floating, or walking in great easy leaps, like on the moon. Does everyone have dreams like this, or only people who are in touch with their creative sides?

    I wonder if I’ll dream about flying tonight. Goodness knows, I’m trying to be surrounded by a cloud of creativity this afternoon as I work on pounding our the first draft of a 2,500 word short story for a contest. Maybe I’ll reap the benefits of that after I fall asleep.

  4. Susan Tripp-Mosman says:

    I, too, am trying to be fearless as I restart a career that has lain sleeping for 16 years. Lately the image in my mind is a little, stick-figure me with a looming inferiority compIex shadow behind me. Your words have ENcouraged me to move forward. As to the vulnerability of writing, I hope you’ll take the opportunity to read Sarah Bessey’s blog “Damaged goods”. It’s specifically directed to the Christian church but it expresses, beautifully, the process of laying bare one’s deepest soul for all to see. The responses are especially powerful and reflect deep human resonance and appreciation for the risks writers take. I hope you’ll find it encouraging to your work. Eschet Chayil! You are a woman of valor.

  5. Julie Leinberger says:

    Beautiful! I need to read this every morning-lol. No wait, I WILL read and try to put in action every morning!

    Sent from my iPhone

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