Saturday, July 05, 2008

Fear is a Funny Thing ...

I've come to realize that I not only live in a community filled with fear, I have been surrounded by friends who are motivated and enveloped by fear, (perhaps this has been an unconscious choice of my pain body seeking to feed its story!?) and over the last two years a significant component of my journey to wellness has been about facing, or to use Deida's term - LEANING INTO my Fear.

Fear is a funny thing ...

This morning I searched the word "fear" on my blog and found posting after posting ... as I read back over the long list of postings that made reference to Fear I was struck at how far I had progressed, but more than that, I was struck (perhaps not in a good way) by the number of references that were as a result of the milieu of Fear in which I have been living over the last three years ...

I worked as minister in a Church filled with fear ... people afraid thier past would catch up to them ... people afraid thier little secrets would be spilled out of the safe closet where they were stashed ... people afraid their own short comings and incompetences would be revealed for all to see and thier secret would be lost ... people who were simply afraid of the changes they see around them ... in a place where faith, hope and care should abide, the shackles of FEAR, BITTERNESS and HURT abound ...

I have lived in a community dripping with fear ... fear of change ... fear of doing things in a new way ... fear of the outsider ... fear of people who may be smarter, more capable and more able that themselves ... fear of looking beyond the margins of the safe little valley and seeing the vast world that lies beyond ... in a place of great physical beauty, the nastiness of the petty has prevailed ...

I've served in a Church that is brimming with fear ... fear of the unknown ... fear of technology ... fear of the new ... fear of the visitor and the outsider ... fear of being wrong ... fear of being exposed and vulnerable ... fear of losing the comfortable ... fear of being revealed as posers who fail miserably to live the words that so easily roll from our mouths ... fear of God in a less than helpful way ... fear of not living an adequate life ... in a place that should embody hope and offer an unconditional welcome for ALL there is instead the paralysis of inaction, complacency and excuse making ...

I've lived a life overwhelmed by fear ... fear of not being loved ... fear of being rejected ... fear of not being as capable as people thing ... fear of criticism ... fear of failing ... fear of succeeding ... fear of one's own self ... and most of all - a fear of simply not liking myself ...

And most ominously of all in looking back I have realized that like a magnet, I have drawn to my circle of "friends" people who are living lives equally filled with fear as my own ... those fears have been revealed in hindsight ... blaming everyone else when one's life takes a turn rather than taking responsibility for one's self ... holding to a "STORY" when the evidence is overwhelming that the story is a fiction (hearing a 'friend' say - "it's the story I HAVE to tell myself in order to function ..." is perhaps the most pathetic and desperate proclamation of FEAR one could ever hear ... over and over my 'friends' have stayed silent and gone along with the mob, rather than face the fear of risking something in the name of change, friendship, care or even justice ...

Over and over I can find in the lives of those around me points where their fear has overwhelmed them, and rather than moving forward, they have chosen to run backwards. It's the old adage - "the devil we know is better than the devil we don't know ..." the comfort of what we have known and experienced is more appealing in the face of fear, than moving forward and taking the chance of LEANING INTO your fear ...

If I've learned NOTHING ELSE from the last three years, I've learned that my worst fears haven't really been that bad ... In many ways I feel like Shakespeare's Shylock ... I've had pound after pound of flesh stripped from me ... and even in the moments that it seems horrible and as bleak and dark as it can be ... a flicker of light breaks through ... and hope remains ... I can stand with my back straight and say - "I am no longer afraid ... you've done your worst and I'm still here ... I'm still breathing ... I'm still alive ... and ... I'm stronger for it !!!"

I've easily said things like:

One does not discover new lands
without consenting to lose sight of the shore
for a very long time ...- Andre Gide

and

Twenty years from now
you will be more disappointed
by the things that you didn't do
than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore.
Dream.
Discover.
------------------------------------------------
- Mark Twain

I've even encouraged others with these quotations ... but applying them to my own life has proven to be more of a challenge that I care to admit to myself ... It's easy to say - "Let go of the shore ..." it's harder to do ... The instinct of survival and self-preservation says - "HOLD ON TIGHT!!"

Perhaps it has been fortunate that the warm and welcoming community of The Church, Minnedosa, and even my circle of 'friends' stomped on my fingers the way they did and set me adrift ... I may not have let go otherwise ...

But as I continue to drift in the vast unknown that I currently find myself in, I've come to realize that in tallying all of the 'losses' I've experienced, they may not be losses at all ... they are simply what they are ... turnings of life ... events along the way that are neither positive nor negative ...

From this, I've learned that the greatest fear we will EVER face in life is simply the fear of change and of the unknown (As a wise man once said - "we have nothing to fear, but fear itself!!") ...

I've reflected on this fear of fear previously, and as I re-read my own thoughts I've come to appreciate how strong THAT fear was within me ... change and the unknown represents letting go of the shore and setting one's self free to drift ... I can see around me many who are simply paralyzed by thier fear and afraid of letting go of the certainty of what is ... failing to let go means they are NOT open to the possibility of what might be and to the potential of what COULD HAPPEN ... instead they cling in fear to what they know, and lash out at any one who is percieved as a threat to that ...

I could even cite examples of this by name ... identify the "good" citizens around me who have deluded themselves that it is okay to lash out in fear because they have "the best interests" of their church, their community, or even their faith in mind ... so blinded by their fear, they can not see the inconsistency and hypocrisy in themselves ... and so afraid of owning their inadequacies, they MUST seek to destroy the one they deem a threat to disrupting thier comfortable little world instead of owning their pain body and breaking free of the ingnorance and blindness that has hemmed them in ...

Today I look around me ... and I realize that there is nothing to fear, except fear it's self ... losing sight of the shore is not about facing the storms in the unknown ... it's about simply facing the unknown, and trusting in the journey itself ...

Letting go of the shore does mean getting ready to face storms that may well be out THERE somewhere ... but even as the storm breaks and in the darkness I face the fear of the unknown - the fear of fear - IN THAT moment I will remember a quotation I posted before that says simply:


I'm not afraid of storms,
for I'm learning how
to sail my ship.
- Louise May Alcott

Today I'll try to be like Captain Dan in Forrest Gump ... when the storm comes (and I've faced a few already), I'll lash myself to the mast, lean into my fears and at the top of my lungs yell:

"IS THAT THE BEST YOU GOT ????"

... and when the storm passes ... there will be a beautiful vista spreading before me ... I will once again raise my sails and catch the breeze and see where the winds might carry me ... I will trust, not in what I know, for these things are transient and illusionary, but rather I will trust in THIS MOMENT - the NOW in which I find myself, and I will in that moment (this moment) know that I am alive, I will survive, and life will continue to unfold ...

I need only trust that I will get through it ... I won't be lost at sea ... I won't be destroyed by any of the storms I encounter ... I won't perish alone and afraid ...

I WILL find a new land far from the paralyzing fear ...

And today I know it WILL happen !!

Dayenu !!

.

6 comments:

heartnurse said...

You seem to be at the point in Eckhart Tolle's book where you start to feel very much separated from the rest of the world.
I read his first book back in the 90's and my life and thinking does not even resemble what it did then. Eventually you will not judge, including fear itself. Good luck. You are getting IT.

shawn said...

You know Heartnurse, it's funny ... I've always felt very separated from the world - my values have always stood in contrast with the world around me ... the Tolle book has finally allowed me experience fully the positives of being awake, enlightened and self-aware ...

I also re-read my posting after your comment - the bit about not judging disturbed me ... I did not write what I posted as a judgement on anyone but myself ...

I was/am observing what I've experienced and what I've watched. Like Tolle using story to illustrate his point, I offer examples that I have encountered to illustrate the insidious nature of fear in the lives of those who have not opened their eyes to its presence ... YET, even in this there is no judgement ... just observation.

I've come to value the teaching of Jesus who asked - "do you seek the speck in your brother's eye, while there is a log in your own ??"

I'm very aware of the specks AND logs in my eyes ... and even Tolle points out that it easier to point out their presence in someone else's eyes, than to own their presence in ours ... lately I've watched beautiful people I care deeply about collapse in the face of thier fear ... I do not judge them, but love them MORE deeply and yearn for thier freedom from fear ...

heartnurse said...

I Meant you were judging yourself and you are doing it again.
It is what it is. We all have fears.

sallie ledoux said...

here I am. I have lost my job. Is this rock bottom for me? Sallie

Anonymous said...

well spoken my friend

shauna said...

I am currently examining my own relationship with fear. While my last post was written tongue in cheek, the fear that swallowed me these last few weeks was real and consuming. I've spent far too many years of my life paralyzed by fear. I'm grateful to have awoken to this fact because now I can choose differently.

As always, thanks.