Just under a month ago, my older sister and I (mi tata) went to Cuba. Before you even ask the question asking (how was it, really?), I'll tell you--it was incredible, and beautiful, and both far more than we expected and far less. But that's not really what I'm here to talk about today. There's time for that. What I'm here to talk about is my New Year's resolution, or as close to a resolution as I'll get. Trust me, it all connects. 

Anyway, we went to Cuba. On the plane ride there (direct from L.A. and cheaper than flying to the East coast) we started talking about what our word for the year will be. It's become very in vogue to choose a word, but I like to think I started doing it before it was very hip. Perhaps that's just my inner-Portland hipster coming out though, who knows. At any rate, we choose words and do Susannah Conway's workbooks (if you haven't checked them out you should, it's emotionally exhausting but in the end very useful if you're at all a reflective person who wants more from life than just dishes and commutes). On the plane I told Rachelle, I need a word I can act on. I need something to push me out of my comfort zone! That's my problem, I tell her. I'm too comfortable. I need a word that I can act on every day, like courage or something. Maybe brave I tell her. Maybe I will be brave in 2017. 

Which is how I found myself swimming up a jungle river, listening to the thunder of a waterfall pour down from high above up, and right into the mouth of a dark cave. “There are bats in here,” someone in front of us calls out. “Come look!”

I shudder a little internally at the thought of this. I like bats, in theory. I like them swooping up mosquitoes on the porch at the ranch, under the stars, where we all can keep a respectful distance. I’m not so sure about bats in a dark cave, myself a guest in a bat house, where surely the water is guano-tainted and flying space is limited. I’m not sure at all. I start to paddle right on out of that cave, back to the sun, and then hear someone behind me say, Oh wow. And from somewhere deep in my subconscious, be brave surfaces. My word compels me. You’re only swimming in a Cuban river once, probably, I think, and shout behind me to Rachelle: I’m using all my bravery!! I’m not sure if she can hear me over the din of the waterfall, but either way we head further in.

It takes a minute, but soon they appear--swarming clusters of fine-boned bats, clinging to the roof of the cave. It was amazing, being that close to them, gripping with their toes for all their worth. Light bounced around from outside, so the whole cave felt glittering, as if we had swum into a different world entirely, and what existed outside existed no more. Just us, mesmerized by the bats, the light, the sound of the waterfall and my beating, brave heart.

So that’s it. In 2017 I will be braver. I will make new friends and push myself to do all those things I think about doing, and then make reasons not to. I will be brave enough to talk about how I really feel, and not just be polite. I will be brave enough to shake off the layers of complacency that currently blanket my life. I’ll be brave enough to be honest with myself and in my writing. Brave will be my guide. Look what it has already brought me. A bat cave in Cuba. What other wonders will I seize? Come at me, 2017. I’m ready.