When I first found out that Tony Robbins was going to have his workshop in Asia on February, I could not contain my excitement. I looked at the ticket prices and have decided, for the most part, to attend. I was mulling over how much I have to spend, considering I needed to fly to Singapore for the event and have to pay for my food and accommodations.
It was only the start of the year. At this point I had 5 other trips all chained up during that time period.
I was trying to make sure I stay within my budget. Old habits die hard, they say.
After convincing Zee to come, and booking our tickets. I hesitantly showed him the schedule.
His expression went dark and impatient. It was 5 days straight, some running up to 14 hours in a single day.
But what changed was when he saw what was waiting for us on the first day. His eyes shifted from disbelief to overwhelming concern.
“Walk on fire?”, he told me. His voice sounded ludicrous.
“Yes!”, I said. I was excited. I was happy. I was determined.
“You know how sensitive your skin is right?”
My skin. I have thin skin that reacts almost immediately to any stressor. Heat, cold, a gentle pull, a tiny slap. I have painful memories of Summer where small mosquito bites can turn into welts. Skin aestheticians keep commenting on how fast my skin gets inflamed. I wish it was an overexaggeration, but it isn’t. I’ve learned to live with it anyway.
“It’s going to be okay.” I told him, dressing my tone with eagerness.
He remained unconvinced.
It was exactly midnight. The entire convention center was dark and cold. All of 13,000 seats were mostly empty. There were about 7 screens, and we sat close to one.
I can still hear the voices of people outside. They were doing their firewalk. We were done with ours.
I sat in my chair, tears running down my face. I couldn’t stop crying. The blue light from the mega screens reflecting it. Zee sat next to me, holding my hand.
He did amazing. He walked right after I did. I turned to watch him, and he became… different.
For a split second, the gentle, loving man I know shouted at the top of his lungs, gathered all his strength and where the fire was below his feet, I found the one blazing the most in his eyes.
It was almost primitive.
He walked across the fire with slow grace. His eyes focused in front of him, almost delirious. When it was done, he didn’t notice. Three people had to stop him from walking over the edge to spray water on his soles. Within that second, he snapped back from his trance.
He did so well. <3
The crowd was screaming, “Yes, Yes, Yes” continuously, over and over again. People were hyped up. It looked like a possession of sorts, of thousands of people simultaneously. I was one of the first few people who was going to walk. I ran towards the entrance when they opened. Naturally, there was impatience from those lined up behind.
I was getting pushed.
I couldn’t psyche myself up, I could feel my heart beat faster every step I took closer to the firewalk.
I told myself everything that I should. I memorized the instructions.
There were hot coals in front of me, I could feel the heat.
When it was finally my turn, I couldn’t catch my breath. A woman screamed on my left ear, trying to give me the last few minutes of instructions, and then someone pushed me forward.
Forward the coals.
My first step was excruciating.
That’s not how it was supposed to be.
What went wrong? My head spun. I tried to clear it immediately.
I did everything they told us how.
Still, the fire burned.
I took another step and I felt my heart stopped. It was painful again. I took another one, and the heat was still the same. By my next step, the heat got stronger and the pain shot up my feet. I jumped to the side, at the cool grasses, in shock.
A second later, without even thinking about it, I jumped back to the flames, each step sending a shock to my body, every second excruciating, sending me back to the sides every time I take one more.
I started this.
I don’t know how long it took before I got to the end. It felt like such a long time.
It’s only over when I’m done.
I pathetically tried to reach the finish line.
In and out of the coal, getting burnt each time.
Some people laughed at how I danced between the coals and the grass, constantly getting hurt, my fire walk lacking grace. By then, I was disheartened… I turned around to watch Zee.
“What’s wrong with me?“, I asked him.
My tears would not stop.
“I told myself I can do it. I silenced my fearful heart. I did what I could.”
At that point, blaming other people seemed like a foreign idea. I couldn’t accept that the reason I was not able to do it gracefully was that someone pushed me in before I was mentally ready. Excuses make me feel sick.
“What if this will become the reason for me to never reach my potential?”, I asked him.
I felt lost and desperate, I don’t even know what the reason was. One of my hand held my phone, a google page of me trying to find the reason why I could not perform as well in fire walks. Was it something subconscious? Am I doomed to never manipulate my mind against overwhelming fear and erase it?
He was quiet, holding me, and stroking my back.
It was too dark for other people to see me, the majority of which were rushing to go home anyway. It’s been a tiring day.
“What is wrong with me?” I asked again.
“Nothing,” he said. “Look at me.”
I met his gaze, my eyes still full of tears.
“The true measure of courage is when you’re deathly afraid but you did it anyway. You were in pain but you kept jumping back to the fire. You finished it, even if you think you didn’t. Anyone else could give up the moment the coal hit their skin and they felt it, but you kept returning.”
There was a deafening silence. I could not hear any other sound in the world. I focused on what he had to say.
“It’s the character about you. When you kept jumping in… Don’t think about those who glided across it and made it sound like they’re really cool. I frankly don’t know what I’d do if the coals burned me like you did.” He smiled. “You know I’m anti-pain. This was even your idea.”
“But anyway… It’s that about you. You kept going.”
I remember the beat of the drums that night but my heart overpowered it all. It thumped in my chest like a small animal captive, desperately finding a way to escape.
I remember the fear growing as the heat grew.
I may not have walked like the most talented firewalker in the world, but I had the heart to finish. I jumped right back in, even as it threw me out numerous times.
A lot of things in my life came to be not because I was fearless, but because I had every ordinary person’s fear, yet I pulled through.
I was afraid of being scrutinized, still, I continued being Celeste. I stood on stage, met a lot of people, started my own projects. Every time I put myself out in the world, I tame and dance with the fear that lives inside of me.
Who am I to keep going and to have the tenacity to dream? I am no one. I just know that I have a dream to rise up to and expectations to meet. I have the ability if I don’t get in my own way. There are people I can help.
There are people who need me to control my fears.
Sometimes, the only way to success is to jump even if you have to scream all the bloody way down.
That moment will push you to be at your best. 🙂