It was 4:30 am and I was typing away with me coffee in hand when the door to the living room opened. Our younger son showed up and complained about a nightmare he just had. I wrapped him in a comforter and listed to his story. His dream has some amazing insights about his psyche as well as mine, given that in many respects he is quite similar to me.
He dreamt that he played a soccer game against a pretty good team, but that his fellow players unfortunately were not so good. The other team managed to get an enormous head start and were up 10:0 in the first half. In the second half he single-handily managed to claw his team back until it was 10:9 with 30 seconds still to play. He made an amazing shot, but unfortunately it hit the post and went into the bushes. He ran over to get it, but the ball had fallen next to a bee nest. And when he went to get it, he was attacked by 10 bees. At this point he woke up scared.
His dream is amazingly deep, but when I thought for a moment about how to respond to it, I noticed that he had already gone back to sleep on the couch. The attack of the 10 bees are clearly a fear of not being able to deliver when it matters most. His fears mirror mine quite well; it turns out that I am allergic to bee stings.
A different story came to mind, one when I had gone to play some golf with my wife. Somewhere on the course I had placed my golf bag next to a tree and when I came back later, it was surrounded by wasps defending their near-by nest. Given my bee allergy I panicked for a moment, but then realized that I could just take the golf club I had in hand to slowly pull the bag away from the tree. It worked; the wasps didn't mind at all and went back to their nest without making a fuss.
So that's the message I would have for my son. It is ok to have performance anxiety before an important event. But then, what the mind cannot comprehend is that even in that supposedly intense moment, we still experience the same hear and now that we always experience. Caught in the magic of the moment we are way too busy to notice how important it is. Just in my golf bag story, no matter how scary an situation might appear, chances are life communicates the solution to us on a need to know basis. Just breathe and dive into the next magic moment.