It’s just not on my radar.
I live in a house of ketchup eaters. Of which I am not one. At all.
I grew up with them too. Sister loved ketchup so much she would eat it on everything from eggs to the Friday night fishsticks. (We didn’t have them every Friday, but when we did have them it was usually a Friday.) I don’t remember how old I was when I turned away from ketchup, but I do remember why.
Ketchup is red. (Well except for that weird phase they went through about ten or twelve years ago where they marketed purple and green ketchups, yeah, RED.)
Blood is red.
In my very young mind, I could not comprehend that vessels contained the blood in our body. I figured that it was all just in there hanging out together. I also didn’t understand that our food wasn’t in there free floating. Put it all together and I decided not to eat ketchup because how on earth would the doctors distinguish the blood from the ketchup if I got sick?
Ummm okay, did I mention that I was very young?
That same youth and lack of comprehension about how the world worked was what made me afraid when I realized we were not inside the dome of the earth–that we were actually standing on the outside of the planet and the only thing holding us in place was something called “gravity.” All of a sudden I felt so small and vulnerable. And very hopeful that gravity would never stop working.
Fear is an interesting interpreter isn’t it? Fear that comes from not knowing, not understanding. It filters everything through the unknown and comes out on the other end creating stress and worry and exhaustion. And strange habits.
Like not eating ketchup.
Oh sure I’ve eaten it since then. And occasionally I find it tasty. But mostly I don’t care for it, and I can’t help but wonder if it isn’t because a tiny bit of that worry from when I was small still lingers. Not rational, but maybe.
This morning I woke up at 5:30 to the sound of our Princess sniffling. I’m afraid she’s gone from allergy symptoms to a full-blown cold. (Can I say how unfond I am of ragweed?) It was then that I noticed that my bedroom door was only opened about six inches. Hmmmmm, I thought, that was odd. My bathroom door was near about closed. Even odder. I went to check on Princess, found her awake, and asked her if she had pushed the doors to. Waiting for her answer, I was thinking, “Please say yes. Please say yes.” But instead she answered in her sleepy voice, “No.”
I spent the next hour, in the darkness, fighting fear with common sense. I knew that no one had broken in, but the darkness and the unknown kept pushing the common sense and what I did know back against a wall.
Fear. It’s why I Iose sleep some nights. It’s why I often don’t try new things and why I avoid old ones. And once upon a time, it was why I stayed indoors and tried not to go outside very much at all. Fear is why I avoid my front porch when Aragog’s successor’s web is visible, and it’s why I panic when our Princess starts getting sick. Fear, it is the impediment to living life fully.
I have spent many years working on the fears that come along irrationally. And not all fears are. (To paraphrase my Mama, “Sometimes if you aren’t fearful, you don’t understand the situation.”) It’s the irrational ones that I want to eke out into extinction. When even my plans and dreams get filtered through the lens of fear, it is time to do something.
I’m reading a book recommended by my friend and wonderful writer, Karen Spears Zacharias–“Whistling By the Graveyard” by Susan Crandall. The main character, nine-year old Starla, tells it like this: “Whistling past the graveyard. That’s what Daddy called it when you did something to keep your mind off your most worstest fear.”
Whistling past the graveyard. Yes. I know what that feels like. Only usually for me it’s a way of breathing. Or whispering the same words over and over to bring me peace and comfort when I’m most afraid. Or it’s picking up the phone and calling……Sister, Mess Cat, Bubba, my Aunt, a friend, someone I love and trust. Just to keep me distracted long enough to get over the wave of fear and worry that can come without a moment’s notice.
It’s time I start whistling more and worrying less. Let go of those fears that cripple me and my ability to take the next step in whatever it is.
I love this quote by John Wayne. Yessir. That’s what it is. And I’m thinking after all the times I’ve given in to the fear in my life, it’s time that I learn to saddle up. There is not right or wrong in the trying; it’s just important that I do it.
So in addition to finishing the book I am reading, I need to learn to saddle up regardless. It might be scary and it might be way out of my comfort zone, but that’s what true courage looks like. In the face of fear, not in its absence.
Oh yeah, and one more thing for that to-do list. Add ketchup to my shopping list. I think we might just be out. And tomorrow is very likely going to be fish stick Saturday, and goodness knows these folks can eat some ketchup. I might even have some myself.