Tuesday, September 13, 2011
On Facing Fears
Yet, "fear" should operate only as a little dashboard warning light blinking in your car. Check your oil. Check your tires. Add coolant. In short, pay attention.
Fear shouldn't mean: Freeze. Stop right there. Do not proceed any further.
Far too often, I allowed fear to shut me down.
I once read an article written by a hospice nurse who had helped countless numbers of patients reach the end of their lives with dignity. One of the things, she wrote, that came up over and over again was how many of them regretted how they had let fear operate in their lives. They hadn't said what they'd really thought. They'd let society tell them what they should do, instead of what they'd wanted to do. They'd been afraid to tell people about feelings they'd had. They'd been afraid to chase after their dreams.
And when I think about it, what are my biggest regrets? They seldom have anything to do with things I've actually done. That's because anything I did--even if it didn't turn out as I'd hoped--was still a valuable experience, something I learned from.
The things I regret are the things I didn't do, the things I wanted to do yet were afraid to do.
It is a fact that no amount of planning, no number of fail safes, no number of anguished nights trying to anticipate all the possible "what ifs" and preparing for them, will ever make you safe. The fact is, we just don't control outcomes. There are too many unknown variables, and the Universe has its own agenda. Besides, I've found that the more I try to control an outcome, the more likely I am to totally fuck it up. Letting go of fear--which is what drives the need to control--hasn't thrown my life into chaos; it has opened up a whole new world of possibilities to me.
Life must be lived facing constant fear. It means facing the anxiety head-on and forging through it anyway. That is what courage is. There is no courage without fear.
"You must do the thing you think you cannot do." --Eleanor Roosevelt