2008 started out so hectic that I didn't make my New Year's Resolution until March - To live fearlessly. I had recently returned from Costa Rica, pura vida still pumping through my veins, my head cleared, my spirit lifted, thinking all the world a tropical breeze and a birdsong.
It's May now, and I'm not keeping my resolution. After all, I've got children counting on me, a husband to help, a boss to please, a dog to feed. My flower beds need weeding, my daylilies need dividing, my furniture needs dusting. Between transporting kids from hither to thither and, several times a week, to yon, grocery shopping, meal preparing, and homework checking, not to mention a job, I haven't got time for fearlessness.
Besides, when I think about living fearlessly, it becomes painfully evident that I fear too many things to face. I fear drowning ... in water, in dirty clothes, in closet clutter. I fear cancer. I fear slipping in the shower. I fear failure. I fear success. I fear growling dogs. I fear getting old. I fear dying young. I fear disappointing my parents. Most of all, I fear that I will get lost in oblivion, somewhere between my Once-Upon-a-Time and my Happily-Ever-After.
These things tumbled around in my head as I hurtled north on Highway 25, passing into Burke County, performing a loud duet with Cheryl Crow, The first cut is the deepest . . .
The flashing blue lights in my rearview mirror forced me to reengage with the road. I wavered; surprised, thinking surely that siren didn't apply to me. But I eased off the right shoulder, just in case.
Silently, I handed my driver's license to a young, clean-shaven Georgia State Patrol Officer. After lengthy inspection, he sternly said, "Mrs. Adams, I pulled you over for speeding. Any reason why you're in such a hurry?"
I truthfully confessed, "I was singing."
His mouth opened. His mouth closed. His mouth opened, again. I stared at my hands. He hesitatingly asked, "Did you say you were singing?"
I don't guess he hears that excuse too often. I presented it wrapped in a bundle of guilt in hopes that he would show mercy. "Yes, sir," I replied, "and I didn't notice how fast I was going. I'm sorry."
"I clocked you at 72." My shoulders slumped and I breathed deeply. Then he softened, "It's not the worst crime ever. Think you'll slow down if I give you a warning?"
"Oh, yes sir. I will."
He walked to the rear of my car to write up the ticket. I scrounged around in the minivan mess and found a copy If Mama Don't Laugh. Quickly, I scrawled my name on the title page. Eventually, he returned with my warning slip, which I accepted in exchange for the gift. He brightened. "Is this your book?"
"Yes, sir, to thank you for going easy on me."
"Did you sign it?" He flipped through the pages. "Wow, thanks," he grinned and shook my hand.
Merging into traffic, I thought to myself, It's not the worst crime. But I can't rely on charming my way into a Happily-Ever-After. I turned off the radio. I drove slower.
I said, out loud, "Live fearlessly. There is no excuse. This is my life. I will not live forever. Do it now." Then I started my story, Once upon a time, there was an overscheduled woman who feared everything except singing out loud, alone in her minivan. One day a handsome prince warned her to slow down . . .
(Lucy Adams is a syndicated columnist and the author of If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny. She lives in Thomson. Contact Lucy at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her web site, www.ifmama.com. If you don't have a police car or the power to pull her over, Mrs. Adams' book is available at The McDuffie Mirror.)