Bravery and Broken Nails

I am fearless. Maybe minus my moderate case of myrmecophobia. Oh, and my fear of Jerusalem crickets. Not sure if there’s a name for that fear, but those things are wicked nasty and I refuse to hyperlink to a picture of them for you to understand why. You can google them at your own risk, but remember, you can’t unsee things.


[One paragraph and I already digress? I think I need to start over…]


I like to think of myself as fearless. Some days I’d even like to think some other grand attributes could be connected to my name; daring, brave, proud, confident, genius, street-smart, millionaire …I’ll settle for witty?…  But I especially like fearless. My dad always seemed fearless, and it seemed that it was a characteristic I had to embrace, that I wanted to embrace.  It was part of my heritage, part of my identity, both by choice and by DNA.


So I’ve tried to live life accordingly. In my youth I was always ready to climb a tree (and fall out of it), catch random snakes (and be bit by them), wear roller blades and ride a bike simultaneously (bad idea), ride three-wheelers (into trees, also a bad idea), throw rocks on wasp nests (the worst idea), learn to skateboard on the steepest of hills (fun, stupid idea), chase nutria on golf courses (let’s not discuss this)…I did all these things as an act of embracing life, but always with little internal inquisitions, mostly wondering if my dad  had noticed my bravery.


[And please don’t start thinking these lame stories are all I have as testaments of bravery, or expect much more than this. Minimal examples are the best you will get from me. I might not care to share all my stories yet. Besides, I’m still *cough-cough* young and the statute of limitations might not be up in regards to consequences for some of the brave things I did (ha!). Like the time I defied that blonde, booger-eating bully when he wouldn’t quit being a jerk. Punching him in the nose, then knocking him to the ground really taught him an important lesson; seven-year old Jakz did not like being called ‘Jackie.’ …Technically, 20-something year old Jakz still doesn’t like it either…]


As an adult, I’ve tried to remain fearless. But not without some difficulty. I’ve noticed, with age and responsibility, there’s a little voice that wants to creep into the back of my mind. It’s the voice that tries to remind me of consequences. Sometimes it asks me simply, “Yeah, but what if…?” Or it will remind me I don’t want to incur any medical expenses when I’m contemplating how fun roller derby could be. Or it tells me it would be better to pay bills with my money instead of buying project cars and suits of armor (Actually, I’ve purchased both of these things, impulsively and still paid the bills! Take that little annoying voice!).


It’s the voice that questions why I do simple, yet wonderful things like drink coffee at 8pm, or get more tattoos.


It’s that voice that I usually want to respond to by telling it in plain and simple terms, “Shut up.”

And then I continue to ignore the voice.


It’s a continual battle, this fight against the voice of reason. I have to press on, prove I’m not afraid of anything. Mostly, not afraid of anything…maybe with the exception of Ferris Wheels (but not roller coasters, which makes sense in my head, okay?).


But after all of my endeavors to remain bold in whatever situation life has thrown at me, I found myself facing the realization that bold I am not. Not always. Not today.


A simple broken nail was all it took to discover this.


My dog is a spaz, he has more than a screw or two loose in his head, but I still think he’s a keeper. He catches flies and footballs, chases shadows and airplanes, understands Spanish as his first language, snorts like a pig and is an emotional eater. What’s not to like about him?! As he was playing fetch, he caught one of his nails on the carpet and it cracked, but didn’t break all the way off. Usually a fast fix and one I have no problem helping him with, this one was different. This one was tender, I could tell it was hurting him a bit. I tried the best I could, but only barely. I couldn’t get it trimmed just right, and I knew I was only making his misery worse, so I left him to console himself for a few minutes.


And I felt ill.


Over a broken nail. On a dog.


Because I wasn’t brave enough to do what was hard. Because all I could think in that moment wasn’t how quickly the job could be done. How easy it actually was. Apparently I’d forgotten how, as history seems to repeat itself, I’d already traveled this path. I had helped him before without much of an issue.


But my thoughts weren’t there with his pain, they were with my own. They were stuck in a cycle that wasn’t helping. Not out of self-depreciation bothered by my inabilities, but thoughts of wishful thinking.


All I could think was, “Man, this is a job I wish I could let my dad do for me.”


He knew how to face those moments.  He knew how to walk through them with confidence. And how to help me walk through them, too. He understood that sometimes a little pain might be involved in finding the remedy, but ultimately it led to the greater good.  And yes, there are other people in my life that help me walk through the good and the bad daily. But sometimes… no one else is good enough. Or at least not the right fit for the moment.


Sometimes I just need the help of my dad.


So I feel a little guilty, and a little sad. I’m not brave enough, not as much as I thought I was, not to my own standards. And in that revelation of my deficiency, not only do I let myself down, but I struggle with the knowledge that I’m not living up to my dad’s legacy.


I can’t even fix a broken nail. Not today.


Sadly, what may be the most frustrating point of the story is, some days I can barely comprehend why my dad isn’t on his way over to help with moments like this one (and the many more moments to come). Reality that he’s gone is still a foreign thought. Distant. I don’t have the cognitive ability to wrap my mind around this concept. Or maybe I just don’t want to.


But I’m not going to dwell on sadness. I’m going to find that bravery that’s hidden somewhere in my DNA. I’m going to put on my bravest of faces and I’m going to find my Spanish-English dictionary. It’s been a few years since I took Spanish lessons and I need to find a way to tell my dog, in the kindest of terms, “Calm down, take a deep breath, we’ll get through this…”


Any childhood moments of bravery/stupidity you’d like to share?

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