Befriending Fear


A few mornings ago I woke up remembering a poem I had written several years ago. I did not really write the poem, it was already fully formed  in my mind upon awakening. Waking up again with these words in my head led me to wonder what the parallel was between these two periods in my life. In both cases I had just come through painful adjustments. Life is always about change and adjustments. The choices  we are faced with associated with change and the need for adjustment often determines our perception of quality of life. There have been times when I have gone through those adjustments kicking and screaming.

Good morning fear.

What brings you here today?

The sun will soon be up

And Holst is singing so beautifully.

My heart is open

Even under your dark blanket.

I am here with you now,

What is your song?

Perhaps you want to come to my heart

And so you stop the music from vibrating.

Perhaps I’ve neglected appreciating you

And so now you want to quell all appreciation.

Come, sit next to me, and talk to my heart.

I am open.

I want to ease your pain

And comfort your loneliness.

Tell me all about the rules I’ve broken this week

And you and I can sit and watch the waves.

They are so beautiful

As they break one after another.

Come take my hand

And give me my morning lesson.

This, of course, led me to ponder, what is it about change that triggers fear? Is it the fear of annihilation? Is each change a little bit of a death to our previous self. This is quite a phenomena to consider since change is constant. I recognize that, in a small way, I  am not the same person who began this sentence when I reach the period at the end.

Change reminds us that the idea of being a fixed form is an illusion. Believing we are some-thing gives us a sense of false security. However, as Sartre puts it, we are …”condemned  to freedom.” We are in a constant flux, because life is in a constant flux. Life is a perpetual flow of choices. The one way that we are nor free is that we must always choose.

If we can remember that fear is often here to remind us that we are free, we may begin to embrace fear for this service. It can be liberating to know that, in many ways, we are the creators of our own lives. It may be daunting, at first, to consciously take on the responsibility for the life we are living.  If we deny this responsibility it will become one more shadow to become afraid of.

If we embrace fear when it arises, instead of resisting or fighting it, that leaves one less enemy tucked away in our deeper psyche. Then we can openly and gleefully enjoy our freedom. If we choose to hide from fear, it will then become our constant companion. It will show up in our dreams and in the world that we see around us. The only way out of fear is by bringing loving kindness, unconditional friendliness to whatever arises. If we bring love to fear, we are in a state of love, not fear.

When we approach life without any a-priori conditions of any sort  we are free to enter life fully. What conditions do you place on life for you to experience joy, or love  yourself, or breath freely, or play with abandon, or anything else that you desire in your life that is not there? What would happen if you removed those conditions? Of course, that is a little scary to think about. Because then, who would you be?