Security by William Stafford
Tomorrow will have an island. Before night
I always find it. Then on to the next island.
These places hidden in the day separate
and come forward if you beckon.
But you have to know they are there before they exist.
Some time there will be a tomorrow without any island.
So far, I haven’t let that happen, but after
I’m gone others may become faithless and careless.
Before them will tumble the wide unbroken sea,
and without any hope they will stare at the horizon.
So to you, Friend, I confide my secret:
to be a discoverer you hold close whatever
you find, and after a while you decide
what it is. Then, secure in where you have been,
you turn to the open sea and let go.
When I was in first grade, I remember my dad went on a fishing trip, just for a day, and I lost it emotionally. I remember crying, having a hard time breathing, and not giving in to Ms. Sato’s empathy and logical reasoning. I just believed that I wouldn’t see my dad again. Somehow I calmed down, dad came back with fish that night, and in retrospect, I was just a scared little boy.
Flash forward to 2006 – My little brother visited me in Washington on his way home from college that summer. While preparing dinner for both of us, Joel decided to use the free time to go skate around the neighborhood. I remember being really worried and scared for his safety. Sure we lived in a quiet neighborhood, but what if someone hit him with a car? What if he accidentally ate it, hit his head, broke some bones- or worse, died? Feeling sick to my stomach with all the possibilities, I walked out to the alleyway to find my brother carving up the street, doing sick maneuvers, and more importantly: he was fine.
As Michelle and I look toward living and serving abroad for a couple of years, there are moments where I regress to these past moments of fear. Call it maturity, call it rational thinking, or call it peace, but I do find myself today in a better place than those previous times of emotional instability. I see that in all those instances of fear, there have been far too many other days and moments where I haven’t been fearful, where the worst didn’t happen (and doesn’t happen). I realize that I have control over somethings, but there are far too many things I don’t have control of (see “Serenity Prayer”). I am consoled with the fact that I believe that God is watching out for my family and I, and if something were to happen, that it is for a reason.
It’s not easy to think this way, to trust in God, to let go.
I am now fully aware of the way fear can paralyze us from doing things. I remember how fearful I was to truly embrace being engaged and preparing myself for marriage. I remember having trouble sleeping, having panic attacks, and doubts. It wasn’t because I didn’t love Michelle. It was because I loved her and knew how scared I was to ever lose someone I loved. You don’t get to choose your family, and so loving them and risking loss is inherent. But choosing to love someone and commit your life to them is…scary. The thought of losing someone you love is unbearable and yet, we must bear it or else we may never truly live.
“Better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.”
And so here I am…a point in my life where I never thought I would be. I look back at all those fearful times and see that God was working in me, preparing me for this time in my life. Am I still fearful and worrisome? Yes. Will there be trials ahead during our time abroad and the rest of my life? Of course. But will there be adventure, new friends, and discovery? There better be, or else I don’t know what more there is to live for.
I love William Stafford’s poem “Security” because it speaks to me and where I am in life. There is, however, just one more thing I would add to his poem (not literally)… I am a discoverer, not only because of my ability to face fears and to let go (with the help of God), but because I know I am loved by my family (my “security”, my island home) and I love and will miss them. Without love (God), I am incapable of discovering more about myself and about life, incapable of facing whatever is ahead (which literally for Michelle and I is another island).