“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”
― Marie Curie
It would appear that no sooner has one insight come and punched you in the nose than another, while your hands are cupped around your face, swipes you around the back of the head… I speak, mostly, with my tongue in my cheek.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been pretty anxious for as long as I can remember. Anxiety takes so many forms, there are so many things we are afraid of in our daily lives, but today it was put to me that it is pretty much the biggest obstacle to peace and happiness (along with forgiveness, of course, as previously discussed).
What are you afraid of?
Running out of money?
Your children’s safety?
Every day, every minute of every day, there lurks potential fear. What if you did run out of money? What if you do meet disapproval? I mean, really, what if? Won’t you just find a way through it? Clearly some fears are of things far more beyond our control than others, and we have to face them anyway. But so much is just a ‘what if’?
Jack Kornfield (yes, I’m still with him, though I’m onto his “Your Buddha Nature” talks just now) made this following very good point. I sat stunned. Literally. Well… you know.. no one actually hit me over the head, but they might just as well have done.
You’re walking in the woods and you’re afraid of being chased by a bear (the fear is not of walking in the woods, so your fear is not realised now)
You’re being chased by a bear and you’re afraid it’ll catch you (the fear is not of being chased, but of being caught, so your fear is not realised now)
The bear has caught you and you’re afraid of being mauled (the fear is not of being caught, but of being mauled, so your fear is not realised now)…
… you see the point? The fear is never in the moment, it is always based on a potential future reality…
But more than that – the things we fear sometimes do come to pass (though they often don’t), and we fear them until they happen, until they are the now, at which point we survive them, and somewhere the other side of them, we’re fine. It’s still now. And, ironically, we have found something new to fear.
So, as radical as it may seem, what about giving up fear?
I’ve lived through some experiences I would never have imagined possible. But it’s now. Right now, and here I sit writing this with nothing to fear. I know I could give you a long list of things I could fear, but what’s the point? If now is all we have, if the future is a total unknown, why waste now fearing then?
What if we just made the most of now?
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
― Nelson Mandela
Or, I suppose, feel the fear and do it anyway?