A lovely blonde woman, beautifully dressed in pink, caught my eye as I moved slowly down the street in the afternoon traffic. A vision of beauty, she was carrying a couple of shopping bags from the Cavendish Square shopping centre in Cape Town, South Africa. I was in my car on the other side of the narrow street, there was nowhere to stop without blocking the single line traffic.
It was a warm summer day, not too hot, and she also seemed to be fairly near my age. Being single, I was immensely attracted to her, and wondered if she was available. She was going my way but on the opposite side of the street.
The local council had consciously narrowed the road to remove any possibility of parking, there was nowhere even to stop for a moment. What should I do? I turned at the next intersection a little way on, and then stopped right where she would pass by.
The Delay was Fatal
The delay was fatal. As I waited, my mind started filling with thoughts of self sabotage - how stupid I'd feel if she was not interested. How picking up women, especially very beautiful women, on the street is just not done. That I was wasting my time by making a fool of myself, she might already be in a relationship.
When I was young, I used to be very shy as a kid. So I've worked at trying to get over my shyness and, to a large extent, I have. But when I'm faced with a particularly attractive woman, one I'm very drawn to, then the old feelings come flooding back and I find myself speechless, paralyzed.
As I write this, I imagine the best choice would have been to walk towards her, give her a big smile, suggest I carry her bags and offer her a ride home. But that's what I think now, not what happened.
Face Your Fear
As she walked towards me there was a few second gap for me to speak. Now I know that fear paralyzes and you need to face your fear and do it anyway. Here I was certainly facing my fears! Parachute jumping is scary. I've done twelve jumps, and paid in advance for ten so I wouldn't stop because I was too afraid to continue. The eighth jump was the hardest, yet the fear totally disappeared as soon as I made my muscles obey, and pushed off from the plane. It actually was the most beautiful jump of them all.
Here was a wonderful opportunity to overcome my shyness. But I become paralyzed by self sabotage and said nothing as she got closer and closer. Her face turned red with embarrassment, as did mine, as she walked on by. She probably thought that I'd found her wanting and that was the reason I made the choice not to speak.
Not so, my shyness had just reasserted itself. So I drove home feeling like a failure, kicking myself for being too cowardly to act. For choosing not to change my life by facing my fear and doing it anyway.
There's a Lesson here
Who knows what would have happened had I made a different choice? True, she might have already been involved, and therefore unavailable. But maybe not. She might have been single like me, it could have been the start of a wonderful relationship.
But since it's given me a good story to tell as this introduction to choice, then it wasn't all bad. Many years later, I can find the benefit, the silver cloud hidden in the disaster. How make lemonade out of lemons indeed!
Food for Thought
"By choice, one determines one's own fate. There are no arbitrary forces to be reckoned with."
- Dr. David Hawkins, 1927 – 2012, M.D., Ph.D. Psychiatrist, author of "Truth vs Falsehood"