Whenever I see a bunch of balloons I can’t help but smile. They are brightly colored sleeves, floating atop equally colorful strings, designed to delight and inspire wonder. I mean, who hasn’t dreamed of a bouquet of balloons lifting you from your life and carrying you, just like Dorothy, to a land of wonder far, far away.
When I was in grade school, I remember a day when they assembled all of the students on the playground. Just prior to the gathering, they’d asked us all to write down something we wished or hoped for that we would like to share with another person. “Think big,” they instructed us. “Think about what you would do to make the world different, better.” Lofty instructions for a group that ranged from barely able to read to the borderline between childhood innocence and adolescent angst.
I remembered agonizing over what I was going to write. I wanted it to be something inspiring. Something that the finder would remember all of their life. In truth, I cannot recall what those words of wisdom were, but given my age, I’m sure they had something to do with chasing rainbows.
What I do remember, however, is the sight of hundreds of red balloons bobbing in the wind as we waited for the release signal. I remember the sheer joy of seeing those balloons soar into the sky as we all cheered. And I remember watching mine as long as I could, hoping that the right someone would stumble across my message.
In a way, that’s kind of what it’s like to release fear. Fear’s stranglehold can be debilitating. It can rob you of your confidence and slow your momentum to a crawl. But more importantly, it can severely hinder your choice to live wide.
I am guilty of letting fear snake into my life. Being Type A, I most definitely fear failure. I am frightened by the prospect of poor planning or my lack of accuracy in predicting the outcome. But, can anyone “by worrying add a single hour to [our] life?”* Why do we cede control of our minds to the murk and mire that is fear? Why do we not release it and watch it float away like a scarlet balloon cast against a pale blue sky? Why do we grip it just as tightly as it holds onto us?
It’s not often [I need to get better at that], but when I am able to release my fear to a power far greater than me, I feel an indescribable relief. It’s almost like an elephant, rising from its seat upon my chest.
Take a moment to give shape to your fear. What does it look like? Now pour that anxiety into a bright red balloon. Picture it floating lightly inside a helium-filled orb begging for your release. It’s just waiting. All you have to do is let go. Relax your fingers and let the string pull free. I promise, the relief you’ll feel watching your worry float into oblivion is far greater than the anxiety of refusing to let go.