Fear {21.5.800}

So I’m a little late to the game with Bindu’s 21.5.800 challenge. Truth is, I wanted to participate, but I don’t like to sign up for things and not do them. That goes against my grain and makes me feel terrible. And I knew I would not deliver on the 5 days of yoga. Then Bindu told me I could do savasana, which sounded an awful lot like Lianne’s advice to sink deeply into rest, and … well, here I am. A week late and at least a dollar short. Oh well. I’m here!

I found her prompt to write about fear both daunting and inspiring. I am in a season that looks deceptively calm. My everyday life has ground to a halt and I’m finding myself with long swaths of unscheduled time (by which I mean hours, not more than that) unfurling in front of me in the most gorgeous way. But my emotional life is not as settled as the surface would suggest. It is this hidden turbulence, I suspect, that responded to Bindu’s suggestion to write about fear.

Fear. I am intimately familiar with fear, though often shy away from looking it right in the face. I have written a lot about my fears, mostly about my deep discomfort with uncertainty, and about how I grasp awkwardly for faith. Despite these lurching attempts I’ve mostly found my palm empty but I’m beginning to suspect that may actually be faith, that empty palm.

When I think about fear the Carl Sandburg line about fog keeps coming to mind: “The fog comes on little cat feet.” Seems to me that’s mostly how fear arrives for me too. Creeping, gradually, quietly enough that I don’t realize it’s approaching until it has surrounded me.  That’s the most insidious thing about fear, at least for me: it arrives without warning, and I am suddenly swamped by it, unprepared.

Now this is different from change, of course, whose arrival is always long in coming, deeply anxiety-producing.  In fact, the way that I can anticipate change, and count down the moments until it comes produces the worst kind of fear for me.  Seems incongruous that one of the things I fear most – change, and its cousin, uncertainty – has such a different pattern of arrival, such a distinct rhyhm than does the actual fear.

The other things I fear are more diffuse, less connected to facts (ie I am leaving my job.  This is a change.  I am afraid of change) – these are the fears that arise, unbidden and unexpected, and who surround me like a fog I cannot escape.  The old, familiar fears – I am not good enough, I will soon be revealed as the fraud I really am, I am all surface and no depth – jump out from behind corners of ordinary days, startling me into submission.  This fear is all tangled up with my far-too-powerful (though not as simplistic as it initially seems) concern about what others think of me.

The deep fear that I will be abandoned, that those I love most will leave me animates the vaguely frantic sense that accompanies me some of the time, ebbing and flowing to the beat of an irregular and inscrutable metronome.  I have a lot of friends but I have  truly let in very few.  And I live in fear that those beloved people will see all the things I fear about the heart of me and decide to leave.

There are a million other things I fear, small and big: aging, my own and my parents, the fragility of my childrens’ health, the recurrence of my childhood friend’s cancer, not being able to sleep, trying new and intimidating foods, certain intimidating people, the pitch black, and roller coasters.  I could probably write this list all day, and sadly it comes to mind as easily as did my list of things that make me very happy.  Something to think about during today’s savasana.

6 thoughts on “Fear {21.5.800}”

  1. Incredibly poignant words, Lindsey. You lay your heart open in a way that very few are able to do. Here are some more words for you….

    There is a school of thought that says there are only two things in life: love and fear.

    Fear and love. And the line of thinking continues: only love can calm the fear and ultimately overcome it.

    You know, somewhere deep inside, that you are loved. As we all do.

    The slippery, elusive thing is to love yourself, to know that you are not only good enough, but all good, all light.

    There can be a lot of peace in savasana…. I hope it is there for you today and every day.

  2. Oh those voices, those insidious indicators of all that we fear might be revealed about us.

    I don’t know where those voices come from for you. I don’t know why they use the words they use.

    I do know that nothing any of us can say will make them go away completely.

    But I also know this…this blog, your writing, reveals a true-er you than the voices can possibly know. And that you is more than good, she glows brilliantly from within. She knows with a deep intuition. Her roots go deep and every thought bears immense weight – nothing shallow here.

    Listen to that voice, the voice of your true self, maybe quieter, less pushy than the rest – but there without a doubt. And then tell the others to shut the *#&$ up!

  3. So happy to see you’ve jumped into the challenge with the rest of us. And I say, embrace the imperfection. I completely relate to the fog and the change. Sometimes, I think it gets easier, and then it doesn’t again.

  4. Lindsey – I’m always happy to see your blog posts in my inbox and I’m particularly thrilled to be sharing this challenge with you in all of our glorious imperfection. Big deep breaths and lots of Savasana 🙂

  5. Cool idea that 5.21.800—seems like good encouragement to keep writing as my own fears mount to delve into writing something more fictional again, things that must by their very nature quite possibly end up sucking. Big time.

    As for fear, I just like the idea of camaraderie in the terror, and the gentle but insistent reminder that fear is all about the past (the projection forward of our worst wounds in the mistaken idea that maybe what has already happened will not happen). But there is every possibility that our wounds will not re-occur. And at least in this present moment, if we’re able to write and read each other’s words, we are quite likely alright.


  6. We thought we lost our child #3 this week. She didn’t get off the school bus at the regular stop. Five minutes later and a near heart attack, we found her (on the bus; she’d been reading, a typical child of mine, nose in a book, oblivious of life).

    I posted a poem about fear on my blog a few days ago, about how it is a knife edge we walk, a record we flip, without knowing the backside.

    I don’t like fear, but it provides a writer much to write about.

    PS: My sis-in-law did a fire walk a few years back. She emerged from the experience, in many ways, fearless. I’ve wanted to do one ever since.

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