Sunday, March 20, 2011

If I wasn't afraid of....what would I be doing right now?

Have you ever felt afraid? 

Of course, duh, you say (or think as you read this).  What a silly question!

Of course you’ve felt fear. You and I both know that.  But, fear is a masterful disguise artist, one who appears in so many different forms that often, he goes unrecognized.  By you.   And me, of course.

To be sure, you and I have, at some point or other, probably been afraid of

  • not having enough money
  • suffering some terrible illness
  • being betrayed or taken for granted
  • feeling lonely
  • losing someone we love
  • public speaking
  • failing at something e.g. an exam or job application/interview
  • being attacked or molested or abused

I’m sure the list could go on.  But, what about the things that seem so insignificant and arise so surreptitiously in the course of our daily lives that we don’t even recognize them as experiences of fear?

Like the fear of getting my lovely watch wet if I chose to walk in the rain, which incidentally, I did yesterday?  Walk home in the rain, that is, having first taken the precaution of tucking my watch into my backpack :)

Or the fear of what might happen if I didn’t get in touch with my daughter on the weekend?  

Or the fear of making custard that was lumpy?

Or the fear of wasting my life away?

You see, the difference between these fears and the ones in my list is that the former are more fleeting.  They arise as thoughts and feelings that are often quickly overridden by other more immediate demands on my attention or more immediate action (which may simply mask or suppress the fear rather than deal with it). 

It’s not that the ones in my list never leave my conscious attention.  They do. But they are so strong and persistent that I’m assured they’ll return sooner or later.  And, morbid as this may sound, it is almost reassuring! 

I know I’ll get a chance to tackle them or to at least acknowledge that they are *real* and potentially dangerous.  In other words, they’re not hidden from me and, to that extent, I feel I have some control.  Not over them, necessarily but in relation to them, whatever that means.

But the more subtle, fleeting, inconspicuous fears that stream through my mind, like the fear I had of getting my writing out of the way before my friend, J, turned up this afternoon – afraid that he might see it on my computer screen.  Not something I would have wanted as it was rather personal stuff.

Being aware of this fear and realizing, not for the first time, that there are so many of these types of unrecognized fears that are forever flushing through my mind and spirit made we wonder how much erosion they actually cause.

The big, recognizable fears are potentially erosive, I don’t doubt.  But at least I am aware of them and can take steps to deal with them.  But these little, silent fear experiences that I am only momentarily aware of do cause damage.  Rather like odorless fly sprays or roach bombs.

Over time, they cause me to attempt less, be wary of more, feel less free and settle for a whole lot less in life.  I know this to be true when I reflect over my life and consider the things I’ve avoided doing, the friends I’ve avoided making, the opportunities I’ve passed on and the things I’ve chosen to be skeptical about.

Collectively, they have prevented me from living fully and freely.  Damn!

So today, upon the most recent recognition of a fear, I asked myself:

If I didn’t have this fear, what would I be doing right now?  And how would I be feeling?  

I can tell you I felt exhilarated by my answers :)

How about you?  Are there any subtle, masterfully disguised, surreptitious fear bombs that you have been (momentarily) aware of?  Do you think they have eroded the quality of your life?  What have you done about them?  Do you think that just because they are fleeting, they have little effect?

I’d love to know, as always :)

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