“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little coarse, and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice? Up again; you shall never be so afraid of a tumble”
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀~ Ralph Waldo Emerson – Journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1841-1844
The feeling of fear, at times, can stop even the bravest among us. We can feel fear for many reasons and for no reason at all, other than what we imagine. Even fear of the future can stop us in our tracks – as if we believed we could predict the future and what we imagine will surely, without a doubt, come to pass, even in the face of evidence that tells us that the very things we imagine have never come to pass, ever, before.
If I go to bed thinking, “It will rain tomorrow.” or “It will snow tomorrow.”, I will be right in my predictions, at least some of the time. However, if I go to bed at the end of each day thinking, “Tomorrow I will be killed in an accident”, it’s only possible for me to be right once.
Most of the time, we’re not actually afraid of what we think we’re afraid of. For example, until recently, I would have said that I’m afraid of heights, whilst I am actually only afraid of the pain that I would inevitably feel if I do fall from a height, (supposing the fall wasn’t fatal). Another example: one of my friends says that he is afraid of ceasing to exist, whilst, what he is actually afraid of, is the possibility that he will quickly and easily be forgotten. (He and I have had that conversation).
I sometimes wonder if many fears, if not all, can be reduced to a single cause; the fear of fully and wholeheartedly participating in life on the terms that life offers. You see, I don’t think life is capable of killing anyone. What if life, and whatever is responsible for the fact of life, is only capable of birth, creation, healing, growth and rejuvenation?
I love nature. I love the beach and I love being away as far as possible from the towns and cities and away from people. One of the things that I’ve observed over the years is that all of nature seems to be relaxed. When I’m at home, I can observe that the birds that fly over my house and nest nearby are relaxed, (there’s loads of them here where I live). When I can see the fish swimming in a river or a stream, they always appear to be just taking it easy. Even the cows and horses in the fields of the farms that I pass on occasion all seem to be relaxed.
There is no fear, no panic, no striving, no sense of urgency in nature, generally speaking.
Here’s another example, from my own experience.
One day, I was in a park, here in Belfast, and I was sitting on the grass next to a river, (Victoria Park, for those familiar with Belfast, NI). There were some ducks nearby, just getting on with doing what ducks do. Suddenly there was a bit of a scuffle between a couple of the ducks and I turned my head to see what was going on. All I saw was a duck give its feathers a shake and it then settled back down to doing whatever ducks do. The disturbance lasted but a couple of seconds.
I’ve found that, much like the ducks, so long as I don’t get all caught up in my mind, making assumptions and creating stories around whatever is happening, I am more able to just get on with doing whatever Zander is doing today.
Having said all that, emotions are a natural occurrence. We are meant to feel them. We are not equipped to deny them or store them up for later. Neither are we equipped to run away and hide from them. The good part is that we, also, are not equipped to face them either. All we have to do is feel them, and recognise whatever it is they are there to tell us.
However, it’s also important to know that feelings, (the results of emotions), are only feelings. Feelings may offer us warnings of some sort or another, but they are not the whole truth, mainly because we can and often do make assumptions, come to conclusions and form opinions.
The best way I know to deal with fear, (even a heightened sense of fear), is to prove it wrong by going ahead and acting against the feeling of fear. This doesn’t mean that I’m going to walk off the end of a high building or walk in front of a fast-moving train. That would be ridiculous. I mean that each time I feel afraid to speak up, or afraid to fail at something, or afraid of making a mistake, (during a Sunday Night Live for example), or afraid of what people might think of me, I act against that fear and do exactly whatever that fear is telling me I should not do.
So what if I say something and realise I made a mistake? So what if I don’t accomplish what I set out to do? So what if someone judges me harshly? Life may hurt from time to time, but it will not kill me.
Yes, it is possible to flow like a river from one bend to the next and beyond. It is possible to bend with the wind like an old oak tree. It is possible to relax and take in the day like a grazing heifer as each moment passes as if time was standing still. And, it is possible to soar high on the air currents of life, like an eagle and like a seagull or like a Raven. It is possible to relax and know that now is no other time or place that we might imagine; it is only now. It only ever is now. I can relax and take my next breath in the belief that there will be time to take another after that, just as I can go to sleep at night knowing that the sun will rise tomorrow, as will the moon at the end of tomorrow.
There is nothing to fear. Life is safe. We are safe. We are all safe in the hands of life. You are safe right now.