Life in a Straight Jacket

Fear is the evil and corroding thread that shoots through the fabric of our existence.

Fear is the evil and corroding thread that shoots through the fabric of our existence.

I was 7 years old, we were at my grandparent’s beach house on the Connecticut shoreline.  We would go for the entire summer; my family of eight and my grandparents, ten of us on the water.

Back in those days the leftover hippies were still around and would to come to the beach on their motorcycles; or “hogs” as they were called. Since our house was on the water, many of them parked near our house, along the beach. One day I was sitting on the front porch when the gang pulled up. I always loved when they came, I got to look at all the bikes and listen to their engines, nothing sounds quite like a well tuned motor.

On most days I would sit and watch, no one saying anything to me – but this day was different. A guy with long hair, tattoos, and a beard headed towards me.

“Hey, kid, would you mind keeping an eye on my bike while I go to the beach?” I was so excited, “Yes! I will” I responded quickly. Wow he asked me to watch his bike! I must be important and he must know how much I love motorcycles.

For the next four hours I either stood next to the bike or sat on the step watching. My mother came out a few times and tried to get me to come in for lunch, I said, “No way. I must keep an eye on the bike.” “Charlie you need to eat”, but I just kept telling her, “Not now.”  I thought doesn’t she get it? This dude asked me, that’s right, me, to watch his bike.

Four hours or so later as I am sitting on the step I noticed he was walking towards his bike so I jumped up and slowly walked towards him. As he approached I was excited for him to tell me how good I had done watching his bike; heck, I was really hoping he was going to offer to take me for a ride. None of that happened. The dude didn’t even look at me! He just threw his leg over the hog, grunted and jumped on the kick starter. The bike fired up and he drove away.

All I could think was, what did I do wrong? Why was he so mean? Doesn’t he know I did what he asked? I watched his bike for hours?

This was the beginning of my straight jacket, the first time I remember saying to myself “I am not good enough”. This was the birth of that evil thread of fear that would turn into my straight jacket.

Decisions based out of fear never turn out to be good ones. Unless of course you are standing on the edge of a tall building and fear is keeping you safe. No, I am talking about the fear that hold us back from reaching our full potential.

When did you put your straight jacket on? Better yet, when did you take it off? How do you keep it off?

Here is one method I use to keep fear in check. I ask myself is this real or imagined fear? Guess what? That’s right 99% are imagined, they haven’t even happened yet. Start unraveling your straight jacket and not giving into fear – you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

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2 thoughts on “Life in a Straight Jacket

  1. Oh my, Charlie, thanks for this wonderful story. This brings back memories of straight jackets for me, and it took me a long time to realize them. You just triggered one! I used to not get selected in sports team games in public school. Sometimes I was one of the last few choices, but many times, not at all. I believed this was because I was regularly teased for my fair skin. So, I often felt not good enough. I guess that’s why a grew to be a perfectionist! And now, I am much more appreciate who I am, without having to be perfect! That game of “perfect” can be a life sucker.

  2. Thanks for sharing. You didn’t do anything wrong, but you were young kid and I can see how you could have thought that way. The guy who asked you to watch his bike was selfish and thoughtless. No matter how busy, preoccupied, hurried, etc…you can always find time to say thank you!