new year’s, fear and tinker bell
“You have to break rules to break free.”
“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
A new year is always a reflective moment and a pandemic certainly does amplify the urge to reflect. Coincidentally, whenever asked about the effect of Covid on, well, everything, I say one word: amplify. It has simply amplified everything – uncertainty, change, technology (some people call it ‘digital transformation), existing business vulnerabilities, Life vulnerabilities as well as business strengths, opportunities & risks, etc., as well as certainty.
Yeah. It has also amplified both uncertainty and certainty.
The pandemic shone a spotlight on the fact uncertainty is not the sole owner of fear & risk that even certainty contains aspects of fear. And a lot of fear.
I can know exactly what I want to do, I can know exactly what certain steps I need to take, I can even know with certainty what my quest looks like, and fear will still dog you every step of the way.
Let’s be honest. Certainty was not supposed to feel this way.
While we like to say ‘change is my constant companion and friend’ it is quite possible fear will shed its superficially bad perception cloak and take its place in public vernacular as “fear is my constant companion and friend.”
Look. I am not suggesting everyone curl up in a fetal position overcome with fear, but what I am suggesting is 2021 will be the acceptance of the fear of the known; the fear of certainty.
We are certain we will survive (because what is the alternative?) or, as my friend Murray Calder is teaching me, we will not survive and, yet, the quest goes on. Why? Because what is the alternative? And maybe that is the biggest lesson of 2020. The quest goes on, despite the fear, whether you are staring at certainty or uncertainty.
** note: Please note I am not suggesting one can become fearless, in fact, I think a fearless person is a lie. I am also not suggesting becoming ‘unfeared.’ I believe we have learned un-anything, let alone unfearing, takes a lot of energy and some sometimes-absurd contortionist reasoning.
I do not suggest embracing fear just as I am not suggesting ‘not fearing’ nor am I suggesting uncertainty is better, or worse, than certainty, but rather maybe just accept it all. Why? Because as a corollary to ‘the quest goes on despite the fear’; 99% of us have a 100% daily survival rate.
If a pandemic year has taught us anything, that last sentence & thought may be it.
Which leads me to Tinkerbell and moving forward and how people should accept fear is a valuable companion.
Peter Pan and Tinkerbell are volatile companions. They fight, they scoff at each other – maybe even show a little contempt for each other -, they make each other angry and jealous, but when it comes right down to it, they would each die for the other.
** note: The book version of TinkerBell, one of the most recognized characters in children’s literature, was certainly one of the feisty imperfect spectacular ‘doer’ type of people.
Considerably different than the Disney version.
Considerably more interesting than the Disney version and, more importantly, a reflection of the fact the world is not a Disney version.
They recognize they aren’t always perfect; the world isn’t always perfect and while sometimes they drive each other crazy they also realize those very characteristics that make each other crazy are also often the ones that make the other love them so much. They also recognize that the combination of their characteristics increases their likelihood of survival.
And while Peter Pan may have embraced not growing up, TinkerBell embraced “you have to break rules if you want to break free.”
The pandemic put a spotlight on rules, boundaries and norms. Some were needed and, well, some that existed before the pandemic simply became useless within the pandemic. We reflected on so many rules, so many things society tells you to do, so many things business tells you to do, and began to realize if you want to break free, if you wanted to find some success, shit, if you wanted to survive, you have to decide what you want to do – and be. In some way 2020 encouraged us to find our inner Tinkerbell.
The rules of the status quo, the rules of what we viewed as ‘certainties’, became silly cages to stand in. In fact, many of us began to realize fear was a silly cage. We saw uncertainty was actually the norm and certainty was also to be feared. What do I mean?
We stood in March and we knew, with certainty, it would be shit.
We stood in March and knew, with certainty, we would survive (we just didn’t know how).
We stood in March and we knew, with certainty, we would have to do different things.
There were a lot of knowns and, yet, many of us were shaken; even some fear. On other words. Fear was a certainty. And. Certainty was fear.
Uncertainty wasn’t the cage, certainty was. This, upon reflection, freaked us out. It freaked us out because the certainty cage has always been a comfortable cage for us. It has always barred us against the nastiness of the outside world. All of a sudden, the cage we accepted as a comfortable cage (or maybe not recognized we were in), the way it was supposed to be, some of the ‘certainties’ in Life, shit, even the uncertainties we normally accepted (including “life cannot be planned”) became simply wisps of smoke from the dumpster fire of 2020.
Suddenly we were free.
It may not have looked like freedom in March , but freedom it was.
And maybe, just maybe, we learned to think like a bit TinkerBell with this freedom.
She wasn’t always nice. She was feisty. She was willing to break rules. She had an imagination. I am not suggesting you shouldn’t be nice, but freedom does mean some shaking up of things, some discomfort and some conflict. Look. I am suggesting we need to ‘break some norms’, break some of the Life rules of emergent living (and, no, I do not mean not social distancing or wearing masks, etc.; but rather break some of our expectations of how Life is supposed to be lived), and break out with fear in hand.
Maybe break out our inner Tinkerbell.
It’s about flying.
It’s about finding and embracing the magic in Life.
It’s about recognizing the world has dark places, but still be willing to venture out
It’s about being nimble where evil <or ‘the bad’> tends to win thru stolid unmoving sturdiness.
It’s about not always being nice, but being true of heart.
It’s about being smart, not strong.
It’s about breaking some norms in order to be free.
It’s about using your pixie dust.
Far too many of us see a dark world and instead of imagining what could be simply hold on to something in the past because it <a> seems better and <b> seems safer (as known). It is our way of ‘unfearing certainty.’ I would argue we do not seek certainty, but rather seek unfearing aspects of our lives and, as a consequence, miss out on the magic in life.
Now. In the absence of a pandemic, in and of itself that seems like a good idea, but as everyone is doing it and as everyone decides to hold on to their ‘own thing’ we simply stay in our own little NeverLand.
** note: Peter Pan’s author made Neverland these places that are found in the minds of children and each is “always more or less an island” not the same from one child to the next.
Its not a good idea for two reasons.
- The pandemic pretty much blew up anything we had been holding onto that could possibly be ‘unfearing’ life
- That kind of thinking actually encourages is to become islands, avoiding adventure <except in our own mind> and not sharing adventure, and a pandemic clearly showed us to survive this ‘adventure’ you need others. Your Tinkerbell needed Peter Pan and Pater Pan needed Tinkerbell.
I think more of us need to seek our inner Tinker Bell in 2021. And in doing so we have a chance to refind the magic in Life and embrace fear and guide ourselves to new and better adventures not alone but together. Maybe in 2021 we stop valuing certainty over uncertainty, stop embracing uncertainty, and simply grab our fears, place them in pocket, and get up and go.
This may sound silly. This may sound Disneyesque <mostly if you haven’t actually read Peter Pan and only know the Disney Tinker Bell>.
But do not disregard the thought.
Tinker Bell sought something better even when faced with reality. She desired to create the future. She guided from adventure to adventure. She may not have liked all her companions, but she never desired less for them at the expense of something more for the ones who mattered most to her.
Oh. And she had pixie dust.
Metaphorically, I could argue we all have pixie dust it just seems irrational to think so in our rational brains.
Seek your pixie dust. Tap into your inner Tinker Bell. Have faith and maybe find a Peter Pan or two to trust on your quest. And maybe reflect on the fact the fear of the known, the certainty, is equal to the fear of the unknown/uncertainty, and that 2021 will be where norms are redefined, adventures will abound and Life’s value is found in valuing the fact 99% of us have a 100% daily survival rate.
“There’s a place they can go if they’re tired of chains,
And our roads may be golden, or broken, or lost,
But we’ll walk on them willingly, knowing the cost –
We won’t take our place on the shelves.
It’s better to fly and it’s better to die
Say the wicked girls saving ourselves.”
“Wicked Girls Saving Ourselves”>