Where would I be if I hadn’t thrown my caution and released it? If I hadn’t let go of the string at the end of it and watched it fly away?
I adore the people who teach my son at school. They are all women. All very Southern and very pretty. We call them “Georgia Peaches” down here. He has been in school for three years now, and I no longer feel nervous as I open the doors to his classroom. I walk through those doors and beam with pride, “Oh, by the way, you wouldn’t believe the schoolwork he accomplished this weekend. It is amazing; he can do so much.” They are typically receptive, and then comes the “but.” All I hear is the Charlie Brown voice again: “blahh whahhhh blahhhh wahhhh.” It is all the same to me. Yes, my son is behind, but there is so much potential there.
I want to shout at those women with their perfect hair: “Throw your caution. Throw it hard.”
If only they would throw their caution up and let it go. If only they would say, “I know it’s not protocol, but we are going to teach him this anyway. I know this goes against my training, but I will be wild and free and watch this child thrive.”
I throw my caution. Sometimes, not always, it is like a boomerang, and it comes right back. I catch it in my short stubby fingers, my wide knuckles, my little hands with the chipped fingernail paint and cracks of dry skin. I want to drop my boomerang like a hot potato. I was always fond of that game growing up. It made me feel excited, and I like feeling excited. Feeling alive. I suspect that is what led me to drugs.
I wanted to feel alive. I wanted to feel excited.
Every time I go to one of those big stores like Target, I see the game Operation on the shelf. I always say I am going to buy it for my kids; it would be great for fine motor for my oldest son. It’s a lie. I want it for me. I want excitement. I want to hold my hand steady and make sure that my tiny little tongs don’t touch the sides, or that buzzer goes off.
My heart is beating fast, and now I am really in the game. I am alive again.
I write now. I write all the time. I write in a journal I just bought. I write in my secret electronic diary on my iPad. I write little notes to myself. I write in my blog, and I write here.
Anne Lamott tells of her early years as a writer, a young writer, in her book Bird by Bird. How amazing it felt to have her work recognized. When her first young poem won a contest and was published, she writes, “I understood immediately the thrill of seeing oneself in print. It provides some sort of primal verification: you are in print; therefore, you exist.”
This is how I feel. When I am writing, hitting the keys, typing fast and furious, I am alive. I don’t care in that moment if my grammar is right, if my punctuation is in the right place (it usually isn’t). I am just writing. I am creating. I am baring witness to my life and the beautiful and ugly things that live in it.
I write; therefore, I exist. I write; therefore, I am alive. I am excited.
I am throwing my caution up into space. I am writing a letter to that handsome German skydiver who jumped from a capsule into the atmosphere. I am going to ask him to go up one more time. This time, will you take my caution with you? Will you take away the caution that stunts my excitement, my willingness to take a risk, my willingness to be wrong or look bad?
When I hit publish and send these words out into cyberspace, there is always a moment where I can’t breathe. I wait for the negative comments to come, the naysayers who want to say that I can’t do it. Just like the people who keep pushing my son into a little box he won’t fit in.
I want to feel alive again. I want to fill up every part of me with blood pumping excitement. If I am there, than I am not tired. (The world doesn’t care if you’re tired anyway.) If I am living free of my caution, I am on my yoga mat, I am writing a new essay, I am willing to share my words with all of you. I am willing to look a fool.
My heart beats fast right now as I am typing. My laptop is getting hot on my lap. I feel good. I feel present. I feel my body. My mind is the engine. Suddenly, I don’t need a nap anymore.
This feeling is so incredibly unique for all of us. For some of us, yoga is our energy life force, or cooking, or running twelve miles at 5:00 a.m. everyday. It doesn’t matter what it is, just as long as it’s there.
Can you let your caution go? Can you let it go in the sky with all the other caution balloons? Can you watch it fly away as your heart beats in your chest because you’re scared now, you don’t know what lies ahead when you have nothing to weigh you down?
GO AHEAD, THROW YOUR CAUTION!
Rachel Pastiloff is an author, yoga teacher, amateur chef, special needs advocate, and mother living in Atlanta, GA with her husband and two sons. In 2009, Rachel’s oldest son was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Prader-Willi Syndrome, with a diagnosis of autism to follow. The diagnosis was traumatic and forever altered the course of her life. Rachel has made it her mission to educate the world about children who have special needs and their parents and caregivers. For more on Rachel visit her blog or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.