Fear visits some of us, moves in with some of us, owns some of us, paralyzes some of us.
I don’t know where you are with fear, but in my neck of the woods, it’s worth looking at if it causes any suffering at all.
I’m going to use a tree analogy again because it’s simple and clear and because trees are gorgeous.
When I experience fear, it means I believe I’m a leaf on the tree. Somehow, I have identified with something tiny and vulnerable.
The wind blows, I shake, and I’m terrified. My colour changes, I’m terrified I’m going to die. All the leaves around me die at some point and I know I’m a leaf, so how can I not be afraid? And finally – plink – I fall and I am dead. So I was correct to be afraid every time the wind blew. Right?
Well, yes. If I believe myself to be the leaf, I am completely justified in being terrified every day.
Every time I cross a street, every time I lose a job or a house or a lover or my savings, every time my kids make their own choices, every time anyone finds a lump or has a stroke or loses their mind.
In fact, even when everything is peachy I can be afraid, knowing that today could be the day that your leaf falls or mine does. Drunk driver, bird flu, bee sting. Miserable existence.
So we come up with strategies to deal with fear.
As adults we reword fear to make it look like something saner.
We say, I’m concerned about your report card, when we mean, I’m afraid you’ll grow up not smart and you won’t find a good job and you’ll end up in prison eating bad macaroni and cheese and never seeing daylight again.
We say, I’m just being cautious, or reasonable, or careful by washing my hands four hundred times a day or taking 720 vitamin supplements or staying with a job I hate or never making eye contact with strangers.
We do our best to create security and stability in our lives and the lives around us in an attempt to minimize fear or to at least turn down its volume.
I’ll make whacks of money, I’ll find the perfect partner, the perfect life. I’ll find the perfect balance. I’ll medicate!
And if our attention to perfect security/safety/stability/balance begins to deaden our spirit (and it will), we’ll either try harder or try another version: new job, new partner, etc.
Maybe you can identify with these. Maybe you have your own marvellous variations.
But fear will always, always be there if I’m the leaf. If I’m the leaf, I’d be crazy not to be afraid.
The answer is simple.
Question who you are in this story. Take your attention inward and find out who you really are.
It isn’t about convincing yourself. It’s about looking more deeply inside than we normally do.
Are there times when you aren’t afraid? Yes. Look there.
Are there times when you know everything’s all right? Yes. Take your attention there.
Are there times when you know you are larger than this scary situation? Yes. Look in this direction.
What happens with honest looking is that you lose the delusion that you’re just the leaf.
Look, and it’ll happen.
You come to know yourself as the branch, and then the tree, and then the energy that creates the tree.
Keep looking, and you come to KNOW yourself as something that can’t fall. Something open and eternal. (I don’t like describing it. You are it.)
Then you’re home.
(In truth, you’re always home, but you forget.)
When you’re home, the wind blows, a leaf shakes, a leaf falls, and everything is fine. No fear, and never anything to be afraid of.
This is crazily long-winded for something that is so simple.
But it’s hard not to spend your whole life yelling, Look! Look!
No need to be afraid, you beautiful hunk of universe, you.
Hope this serves.
Love and thanks.