I, like many sentient beings, have a thing about standing water. I think that if something smells like poop, looks like poop, and is obviously made of hundreds of years of things pooping in it, it should probably be avoided.
As far as fears go, this is one of the lesser ones. There are so many things that we choose to be afraid of on a daily basis. I am constantly worried that I will fall off something high, take a turn too fast, or die and go to hell. Kyle is afraid of Abigail being stolen by ninjas, his prostate falling out, and being buried in an insurance polo shirt. I’m sure your list is similar.
In the narrative of my life, fear has been the central villain. As I look back on the choices I have made, I see that the dumbest ones have been because I was afraid of something. The list looks something like this:
Fear of Rejection
Fear of Failure
Fear of Embarrassment
Fear of Making it Worse
Fear of Inadequecy
Does any of this look familiar to you? I bet it does.
So, the thing that keeps us from doing what we love, doing what we want, doing what we KNOW we should be doing is fear.
Frank Herbert: “Fear is the mind-killer.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt: “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.”
Gandhi: “The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear.”
These guys are right! The thing that is keeping you from pursuing what you love the most is your fear of failure, of the unknown, of the incredible risk of trying something incredible.
Now, I am not saying that there are not risks involved in killing your fears. Yeah, I definitely think that there is a reason that a fear of falling is genetically embedded into babies’ brains: Cuz’ it’s smart to be afraid of falling to your death. Is it wise to wander knee-deep into a pool of standing water? No, I can tell you definitively that is not wise. There are reasons my guts told me that it was a dumb thing to do. (Number one: leeches. Number two: Ebola.)
But, the simple act of doing the thing that scares us the most creates a moment of true living that makes our otherwise porridge-colored existence illuminate. It’s the reason we love scary movies, Halloween, and practical jokes where rodent-like midgets jump out of laboratory corners.
Yeah. You have to see this again.
When we are scared we feel alive. When we look back on the fear, we laugh. When we laugh at the fear, we loosen the bricks of our great Wall of Doubt that separates our fascist critical dictator from the cool inner hippy that thinks everything we do is groovy and that it’s all going to work out.
I love my husband dearly. But, it has become increasingly clear to me that his drug of choice is fear. He is afraid of more things than I can count, and I know for a fact that he sits and creates things to fear on a regular basis. Because of this, I think I feel responsible for teaching him how to let the hippy out once in a while and just let that guy draw smiley faces in finger paints on the world every so often.
So, even though I was terrified to do it, I walked knee deep into a pool of bug-infested duck feces. My brain wanted to show me the horrible things that were probably latching themselves to my nice, warm ankles, but I didn’t let it. Instead I focused on the exhilaration of seeing tadpoles swim through my legs and attempting to catch a frog.
Damn leeches! I’m ready for you this time….
The true adventure of life lies just beyond that Wall of Doubt. You never know what amazing things you will find unless you take it down brick by brick. It’s okay to be afraid, but letting fears and inhibitions control your life will only lead to complacency and unhappiness. Walking through unnamed goopy sludge is not comfortable, but it is real. And seeking moments of true living, even in uncomfortable places, is more fulfilling than a lifetime of comfortable fear.
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