We sat next to each other in the sand overlooking the water, both of us thinking, neither of us talking much. We had been this way for what seemed like hours. It was the kind of day I had really needed, the kind where you can put everything aside for a little while. Where the distractions fade away and you’re left with nothing but the sun, the wind, the sound of the surf and your own thoughts. I was glad I had finally found the time to be here.
She finally turned to me and spoke. “Winter, do you feel stuck?” The question was an odd one, and it was one I didn’t like. I frowned at her, somewhat offended.
“Not particularly.” I answered. “Should I?”
She smiled. “You don’t need to be angry, Winter. I didn’t mean it badly. I just meant that sometimes I look at you, and I see you frozen. Like you’re deliberately holding yourself back. Do you think that’s true?”
I put my irritation aside for a moment and thought. Was I stuck? Did I hold myself back? If I was honest with myself, then I already knew the answer to the question.
“Yes.” I finally answered. “I do. Often.” And not for lack of effort. I did try, and hard. I worked at things, and tried to take risks. But when it came time to make that choice, to finally take the plunge, I always said no. No to myself. No to dreams and goals.
She nodded, slowly, thinking. She looked back up at me. “Why?” She asked. “Do you know?”
“Yes,” I replied. “I know why.”
“Then if you know, why don’t you fix it?” I tried not to laugh. I looked at her, at her wide, innocent eyes. She really didn’t understand. I wished I could see things through those eyes. Shouldn’t it be that easy? Was it somehow that easy? Was I the only one not in on the secret? If you know what’s wrong, then of course you can fix it. But no, surely not. Impossible to fix something so complicated.
I turned away from her, frowning into the ground. I shook my head. “I know, but I can’t fix it. I’ve never been able to fix it.”
“What?” She asked. “What is it?”
I struggled with a way to explain it. “My thoughts.” I finally answered. “They always tell me no. Just when I’m about to take the leap, overcome the fear. They always just tell me no. They’re the reason I’m stuck.”
“And why do listen?” She frowned. “Tell them no.”
I laughed. “Are you crazy? Tell them no? How do you tell them no? You seem to have very simple answers to complex problems.”
She shrugged. “Yes. But aren’t the best answers the simplest ones? If your thoughts drag you down, let them go.” She motioned at the sky with her hands, making a giant sweeping motion. “Your fear, it’s like an anchor, holding you back.” She turned back towards me, smiling. “Cut it loose. Let it float away, to travel through the water and eventually sink. It can’t hurt you there anymore. And let something else take its place.”
“Maybe.” I responded, wanting to just end the conversation. “Maybe I’ll work on it.”
I thought about that conversation for days afterwards. It bothered me, and yet it somehow made me hopeful at the same time. Fear, and the thoughts that it produces, have always been an obstacle for me. Painful, anxiety-ridden obstacles that never go away. But what if…what if I could leave them behind? Even for a little while? Load all of those hurtful thoughts onto an anchor and cut it loose? Would it make a difference? Could it possibly help?
That night I dreamt about that imaginary anchor, sinking, moving downwards through the water. I watched it, spellbound wanting to see it until it passed out of my sight. It moved slowly, the current pulling it away, the frayed edge of the rope twisting along behind it as it traveled. I wondered where it would end up. How far and how long would it move? The light played on the metal and it soon sailed away, off to some distant part of the ocean, to settle somewhere far beyond my eyes.
When I woke up I felt better. Lighter, as though the anchor had taken my worries and cares along with it. I thought about what she had said. “Let it float away, to travel through the water and eventually sink. It can’t hurt you there anymore. And let something else take its place.” What I thought, had taken its place? Because surely something had. I closed my eyes. I thought. For a long time I thought, and I searched for it. And it came to me. And I knew. It felt strangely real. It felt like a promise, like a whisper of good things to come.
Something like hope.