Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What Am I Afraid Of?

My earliest memories are of being afraid. I wouldn’t play in the lake because I was afraid of drowning. I annoyed my older sisters with a nightlight because I was afraid of the dark. I didn’t make friends because I was afraid of rejection. I couldn’t watch “Ben Casey” or “Dr. Kildare,” because I was afraid I had every symptom suffered by the patient du jour.

Though I was not paralyzed by fear, it certainly tainted every aspect of my life. And the situation hasn’t changed as I’ve grown older. I refuse to fly because I’m afraid of crashing; don’t climb ladders because I’m afraid of falling; can’t send my work off to be published because I’m afraid no one will like it.

I am never brave. Oh, there have been times I have girded my loins, ignored the fear and gone for something. But it was never out of bravery. More out of desperation. More of a “what the hell…what’s the worst that can happen?” attitude. More out of the conviction that if I didn’t suck it up and just DO IT once in awhile, I would never do anything. And when I do…

I invariably end up in a time like NOW. The calm after a deadly storm. I hole up and heal; but, in time, I’m driven back out to face the next onslaught. I simply cannot stay in the hole. Because I’m afraid. Afraid I’ll never do anything ever again. What a way to live.

I’m fed up. I’m SO tired of being afraid. It’s taken me more than half a century to realize that living in fear sucks. It can be used as an effective motivator, yes. But it’s a terrible way to live. At least once in my life, I’d like to see something I like and go for it with no fear, no reservations…nothing but confidence and anticipation of good things. Other people can do this. I know they can. Why can’t I?

Last December, I meditated upon the things that “no longer served;” the things I would symbolically burn in my Solstice Fire. On one scrap of paper, I wrote one single word: “Fear.” I’m tired of being afraid. Tired of letting that negative emotion, that black hole of dread and weakness, form the boundaries of my life.

Unfortunately, one Solstice fire does not seem to have done the trick. Fear continues to badger me. Here I am, with all the time and most of the means I need to just go out and explore, discover, learn, create…and I don’t. I’m afraid. I don’t even know what I’m afraid of. I just know that I can’t see my way clear to step out of my box—which has become awfully small—and do things I’ve never done before in quest of my next adventure. Yet I know I can’t let the unfortunate outcome of my Biggest Adventure take away the rest of my life.

Time for another fire. And another and another. As many as it will take to burn up the fear and free me to really live the rest of my life. LIVE, maybe for the first time in my life. Wouldn’t it be glorious?


  1. I have done this - twice. A fire ceremony every night until I run out of things to ask for. Although I thought I would never run out, I did, about a month each time. Keep a journal of each one.

  2. I'm in the process of reading an interesting little book by Steven Pressman called "The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle". Rather than fear, he talks about Resistance. It's kind of interesting to realize all the mental crap that feeds into us resisting moving forward to do what we're meant to do. He sites fear as the fuel of resistance.

    I haven't finished it so I don't know if there's any enlightenment at the end. But your post certainly called it to mind and has me thinking about resistance and its impact. You might want to look it up and see if it's of any interest to you.

  3. Thanks, Kat. I just went over to Amazon and ordered the book. It appears to speak directly to the place in which I currently find myself...