Often before writing my blog, I look for inspiration in famous quotes. But today, reading about trust, I got pretty depressed. Most said: trust no one, or trust only a few. From Stalin: “I trust no one, not even myself.” Johnny Depp: “Me, I’m dishonest, and you can always trust a dishonest person to be dishonest.” It made me wonder, is trust really so rare?
Happily, I managed to find one quote that cheered me up. Golda Meir, the former Israeli prime minister, said, “Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.” Isn’t that a beautiful image? Sparks fanned by trust turning into flames. The thing is, it’s so easy to doubt myself, to think that I’m not good enough. How can I nurture that kind of trust in myself?
In her middle-grade novel, Dogsled Dreams, Terry Lynn Johnson answers this question. Rebecca, her young protagonist, yearns to become a dogsled racer, but doubts assail her. What if she is not good enough? What if she can’t run the race? She blames herself when the dogs go missing, when she loses the sled and the dogs race on without her, and when the sled overturns as she is giving a ride to a passenger. When Rebecca confesses her fears to Heather, her father’s new wife, Heather replies: “Rebecca, when people do things even though it scares them, that’s called courage. You should be a little afraid of racing. It means you know what you’re doing.”
Rebecca doubts her abilities as a musher even more because she senses the dogs’ trust in her. The dogs trust Rebecca because she knows them and trusts them, appreciating each dog as a unique personality. Racing is important to Rebecca. She desires to do it well. But it is the dogs and their passion and joy for running which bring the race alive for her. Her doubts, that constant questioning of herself, are what make her an excellent musher.
Seems to me that doubting must be good — it bring about improvement and growth. So perhaps it is not that Rebecca lacks trust in her mushing abilities, but that her fears make it possible for her to become a better musher every day she spends with the dogs. She can trust that innate benefit of doubting. Like Heather said, being afraid means she knows what she’s doing.
I’ve always tried to instill in my children the understanding that courage can only happen by overcoming fear. After all, if I did not fear speaking before an audience or receiving a vaccination, where would be the bravery in that? Similarly, without doubts there can be no trust. What an amazing and freeing idea! What is trust if not an overcoming of the fear that somebody (whether it is me or someone else) will fail me? Trust my fears, trust my doubts, trust me. Trust.