The Hidden Crocodile by Prem Krishnan. Watercolor.
Today I want to tell you a story.
I don’t normally tell stories here. I don’t normally post on Mondays. I guess this is my own little bit of unconventional action.
This story is part of Brigitte Lyons’ brilliant Story Crafting Practicum. It’s a series of stories from a series of amazing people. Read more about it and learn how to participate at the end of this post. I feel very honored to be a part of it, and frankly a little worried I can’t live up to the beautiful stories the others will write.
The house I grew up in has a lagoon just a few feet behind it. My parent’s house is in the Lowcountry, an area of the southern USA characterized by marshlands and stunning wildlife. It’s a beautiful place. But back to the lagoon… every once in a while, an alligator would find its way to the lagoon and animal control would come out to get it. When I was about five, I realized this for the first time. My older brother had been home during the capturing of the alligator and they let him, once they had bound its mouth and tied its legs, sit on top of the alligator. I do realize now that this was pretty irresponsible of the authorities, but its a small-ish town in the south – people are trusting and lawsuits probably didn’t even enter their minds.
When I heard that Brian had sat on top of the alligator, it dawned on me that alligators lived in that lagoon. And so I began to imagine all sorts of things. My heart would race as I walked through our backyard. And eventually, I developed some crazy idea that an alligator would sneak into my house every night and hide under my bed.
Each night, my dad would dutifully lift the dust ruffle and look under the bed for alligators. And I would still worry when the lights went off, even after his all-clear. I promised myself that if I kept all my limbs fully on the bed, the alligator wouldn’t know I was there. But I would never get out of bed and go find my parents. And eventually, I would forget and just fall asleep.
When the alligators of my adult world start to creep under my bed, I take a deep breath, and I lift the dust ruffle myself.
It’s a long time coming, but starting my business finally got me here. Now I live in the moment instead of above it, though sometimes still trembling. Facing fear is better than pretending to ignore it, with it ever-present staring over your shoulder. Even if you can’t beat the fear, you can deal with it by acknowledging, breathing, and moving forward completely present in the moment.