21 Days of Fearless: Day 9

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

I had it all planned: a day at the Long Beach Aquarium of The Pacific with a few friends, just for the fun of being a tourist in my own back yard again. Only, when it came time to get ready, the friends had to cancel for this reason or that–I was the only one available to go. On another day, I might have rearranged my schedule to do something else, but not today. Today I planned to go to the aquarium, and today I went to the aquarium.

I had a blast.

My favorite thing about the day is that I got to see all the animals I wanted to see, and none of the ones I didn’t. There’s something about getting to do exactly what you want to do, that you just can’t get anywhere else. It’s not that I mind seeing the exhibits that others want to see. In fact, I usually end up learning something I wouldn’t have, otherwise. But being at the Aquarium today reminded me of being the kid I never got to be when I was a kid.

I didn’t get to make decisions as a kid, so we always went where my mom wanted to take me (aka, where my mom could afford, maybe once a year). And then when we got wherever we went, we did whatever my mom thought I wanted to do because I was too shy to actually ask to do what I wanted to do.but today, there was no one but me to decide.

I saw eels and sea lions and lorikeets and sea anemones and seals and tropical fish and sea otters and sharks and sea bass and manta rays–I even petted some of them. I never knew that a sand tiger shark has little “teeth” on its skin that makes it feel like a rough velvety fabric instead of gooey and slippery, as it looks.

I had lunch by myself in the cafe on the second floor and didn’t feel self conscious about being the only one there who was solo. I was also part of a small group of people there without children. On any other day, I might have found myself overwhelmed by the large group of parents who had trouble, collectively, keeping their kids quiet during lunch time. But on this day, I found myself fascinated with the screams and hollars and general runnings around.

The kids seemed genuinely happy. Not just happy to be at the aquarium, but happy to be kids. There isn’t very much responsibility in being a child, and I found that while I was at the aquarium, I was able to embrace my inner child and be curious like a child (maybe even, be fearless like a child!). I didn’t kiss a sea bass, like this child, but I did find myself taking pictures and asking questions, and putting my hand in this tank and that, to pet one slippery sea monger or another. There is surely something special about being curious like a child.

In my venture into the rest of this fearlessness, I must not forget this curiosity. I must remember to ask questions. I must remember to be curious. I must remember to set my fears of sounding and looking silly aside, and simply be my child self. I believe this is where I will find the heart of my creativity.

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