Battling the Hydra

I used to say, “I feel like I’m standing outside a door that is just beginning to open.” I used to say, “My future is waiting for me and I’m going to chase it and pin it to the ground.” Lately I’m saying, “I feel like I’ve strapped myself to the railroad track and I can hear a whistle blowing.”

I don’t mind admitting that I’m scared. As my mother used to say, “I’m as nervous as a pregnant nun in church.” When you see the film, you’ll understand why. I can’t tell you right now, but you’ll see. I know that we’re “not supposed” to admit when we’re anxious about our dreams coming true, and I’m sure someone out there will take my vulnerability and try to slap me around with it somewhere down the line, but my job as a blogger/diarist is to be honest, so that’s what I’m doing.

Last night I had what was probably the worst panic attack I’ve ever experienced, but at least it was good for one thing. I now know how many tiles make up my bathroom floor. I’ve been working very hard at growing a thicker skin, but the truth is, although I’m a very strong person, I’m not at all tough. Years ago, my friend, Jacki said to me, “I finally figured you out. You’re like an egg. An egg is the strongest non man-made object in the world, but it’s also the most fragile.”

A 33° Freemason from my Lodge did an in-depth astrological reading on me in the winter of 2000. As we sat in his study, he looking over my chart and I fidgeting with a glass of cabernet, he suddenly spun around in his desk chair and asked, “Why in hell aren’t you famous!? You’re supposed to be famous! You have a chart that rivals figures like Gandhi, Mozart, the Beatles! What happened that made you so afraid to claim your birthright?”

As we spoke, he handed me a tiny figure of a hydra that was chiseled from stone and he told me to hold it. He then told me that I had a hydra to conquer, and that to do so, I had to get down into the swamp water with it; I could not fight it from above, nor from the shore. He said that I could not fight it alone because, for every head I cut off two more would grow back in its place; I needed someone to wait until I cut off a head, then they would jump in and cauterize it with a torch so that it couldn’t grow back.

Having studied my Greek mythology well through the years, I thought about this particular myth as he spoke, and wondered how it applied to me. Who, or what, was my hydra? If I was the Heracles in my myth, then who would be my Iolaus? Lynette? My Masonic Brother told me that, yes, Lynette, but many other people would come to help me with this beast.

I said to him, “Heracles wasn’t credited with killing the hydra though, because he needed other people to help him.” As soon as that came out of my mouth, I got it and we smiled at each other. “Always remember,” he said, “that your future is not your achievement only, but also the achievement of many people who will believe in you.”

I’ve pondered this myth a lot since that evening in 2000, but never has the wisdom of it—and the advice of my Brother—come home so clearly to me than during the past 24 hours. I’ve lopped off a lot of heads in the past and they’ve worn many faces. Some at first have appeared friendly and some were more honest in their acrimony, but the fiercest face—the one that frightens me the most—looks like me. Or rather, a face of mirror glass that reflects my fear back to me. That is the one that will take the most strength to slay. I’m working on it.

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