My foot lingers just a beat longer before finding its way to the earth. No one else would have noticed, unless they were right behind me and the slight pause disrupted their rhythm, forcing them to adjust momentarily to avoid a collision: that awkward crash of strangers’ bodies touching intimately to avoid injury. But no one is that close to me at this moment and so this temporary uncertainty goes unnoticed by everyone, but me. I can’t ignore the cascading change within me caused by the hesitation, and so I choose to lean into it a bit, forcing the pause to become a full-on stop.
What if this is the wrong path? What if I have chosen the wrong shoes? I think I know the way, but I can only see to the first turn before the road curves; I can only imagine what lies around the bend. Am I prepared? Do I have the provisions necessary? The map is unclear and I am questioning the destination. Did I understand the instructions clearly? Do I have the right address? Am I wearing the wrong shoes?? The uncertainties begin to creep in and then they materialize, reanimating from my past and standing alongside me and in front of me, growing louder, reminding me that I don’t really know what I am doing here.
I want to freeze this moment. I need to step off to the side and collect my thoughts and remember why I even got dressed this morning. I need to rethink the myriad of choices and voices that conflated to bring me this point, analyzing them again, sifting through to make sure that I am seeing every piece clearly. I need to sit and watch the reels of my recent and distant past replay, reaffirming the things I know. I need to hear my champions (and there are only a few) whisper in my ear, “You’ve got this” because sometimes we need to hear the trusted voices to trust ourselves. I need to be sure that I will not fail.
I want to allow my foot to hoover until I am certain, but my muscles begin to ache and I cannot stay here too long. This freeze-frame doesn’t work in a dynamic world where butterflies cause tsunamis, classrooms wait for teachers and wars erupt in far-off places that are connected through invisible threads that only show themselves in the unraveling. The longer I wait, the obstacles grow larger and the road seems to inexplicably steepen, as if a mountain is emerging from below. If I am to get ahead of it, I need to begin.