Being Fearless

I have been thinking a lot about fearlessness these past few weeks. I think I have written before about being fearless when it comes to knitting and I am about cooking as well -- I am willing to plunge in and do anything and without anxiety. I was talking with a relatively new knitter a week or so ago and I asked her what she wanted to knit next now that she has completed a scarf. I know that I would be moving on to a sweater or socks or something, but it would be all about what it is I *want* to knit, not what I think I am able to knit -- because I know I will only grow my skills and learn more by stretching to do that thing I haven't done before. Besides, the idea of knitting rectangles, whether for scarves or potholders, over and over again always in stockinette, garter or ribbing, would quickly become boring and and might put me off knitting. But she is much more concerned with making a mistake and only attempting projects for beginners. Her fear keeps her from leaping in and going for what she likes. I always figure that the worst that can happen is that it doesn't turn out the way I like, but I can always rip it out and knit it again or use the yarn for something else. In short, there is nothing really big at stake, so mistakes and having to struggle to gain mastery feel very low risk with knitting or cooking.

As I was musing about this, I happened to pull Women Who Run With the Wolves off my shelf. I have had this book since it was first published in 1992  and I have recommended it to so many people over the years, but I have not re-read it is a long time. Anyway, I followed a reference into the notes in the back and read this:

"Regarding the creative life, one of the most common fears is not precisely a fear of failure, but rather a fear to test the mettle. The thinking goes something like this ... if you fail, you can pick yourself up and begin anew; you have infinite chances ahead of you. But, what if you succeed, but in the mediocre range? What if no matter how hard you try, you achieve, yes, but not at the level you wanted to? That is the far more bedeviling issue for those who create." (p. 491)

And that's it, isn't it? Because who wants to be mediocre? As a knitter, tis fear does not dog me, because for whatever reason my sense of myself does not ride on my excellence as a knitter. But when it comes to my work or writing, then the niggling voice of the what-ifs creeps in and I become less than daring.  How about you -- how do you wrestle with fear?

The yarn for Arabian Nights arrived today and is it gorgeous! No photo can catch the complexity and depth of the color, but this comes close--


I'll be getting out the swift and ball winder in a few minutes. I'm hoping the pattern and beads arrive Tuesday -- no mail Monday because of the holiday -- so I can get started.

© Cheryl Fuller, 2007. All  rights reserved.