Today, a monster turned up at the cave. It's big, hard-edged, with sharp bits sticking out, and made of cold metal. I'm just sitting here, sipping nescafe, staring at the beast and planning my strategy, my next move.
As a young reckless teenager I was pretty fearless; I look back at some of the stuff I've done with a mixture of trepidation and pride. Crazy stuff. Like hitchhiking the whole coast of Brazil, or taking the doomed 'train of death' into the depths of the desolate Paraguayan countryside. I was only 14 then, and like most people that age, had absolutely no concept of danger, and therefore, no fear. I would ride a noisy Honda 125cc on the motorway between São Paulo and the coast without a helmet, and then swim out into the sea, until I could no longer see the shoreline.
I turned 18 and a string of terrible accidents happened. Like a pack of cards that came tumbling down, one by one. First, I had a serious road crash, as a passenger. Car ended-up upside down and all I remember was that the stereo was still on really loud and I couldn't work out how to switch it off, as the buttons all seemed to be in the wrong place. Soon after that, my young husband died in a similar accident, and that I definitely don't wanna talk about.
A few months later, a best friend died on a motorcycle, on the same road we used to ride together, heading towards the beautiful coast between the north of São Paulo and Rio estates.
That was it, I guess. Pretty much overnight I became someone who's totally scared of things that can move by itself, things with wheels and made of steel.
A year or so later I was given a car. Despite the lessons and instructors that came and went, I never managed to get it out of the garage. Used to sit in the car and burn up the battery just listening to the stereo for hours on end.
Following year, decided that cars were too big for me, bought another bike, but again, couldn't ride it. Had this overwhelming sense that the machine was so much more powerful than myself, I would not be able to control it.
Even cycling, or skateboarding, horse-riding or just a pair of retro 4-wheel-rollies became objects of distrust and fear.
I then came to Europe, grand-tour, backpacking, and it was a relief to discover that you can be motion-scared in a city like London, that has such a comprehensive public transport system. I soon discovered the joys of mini-cabs and only occasionally would miss the ability to just get up and drive somewhere else.
I have no idea why people spend years and money going to university to study psychology, in an attempt to decode and understand the obvious. The answers are always right there, in front of us, hardly need a diploma to work those things out.
So, following my own micro-process of true emancipation, I have now bought a bike. A retro-shopper, for all those emergency rides, when I really need to lose myself in wilderness, with basket attached, for whatever I may find and collect on my adventures.
Sounds ridiculous, but it did cross my mind to get some extra stabilizers, you know the ones, mini-wheels kiddies have on their first bikes. But it then occurred to me that I would be cheating, trying to lean on something and not really confronting the beast.
I have a few pressing challenges ahead of me, and it would be easier to just lean on the things I'm familiar with, but deep inside I know that changes which at first can look terrifying, are more often than not, just what the doctor ordered.
So, from this day forward, no more leaning.
Now, all I have to do, is grab the little beast by its horns, and take it for a ride.