It's been a few weeks since I've had the words sorted enough to commit them to an empty page - been working on Sun & Stone, doing some marketing and business analysis and other super exciting things, but the most significant obstacle has simply been reality.
This month I came face to face with my own greatest fear. Not sharks (which I consider more a survival instinct than a fear), not Styrofoam (more of a nervous system response than a phobia), and not the idea of my belly button becoming unraveled and millions of baby spiders spilling out of the hole. Oh, and yes. That's a fear, now. I thank my daughter for dropping that little night terror into my subconscious.
I'm talking about the kind of fear that stops you cold in your steps, leaves you shaking, covers your face in tears, and snatches up your breath to leave you a shuddering wreck, splintered and shattered. The realization of the possibility of horror, the true potential of your own deepest nightmares.
The initial wave of this fear has passed, and with the light of a new morning I've gotten my first good look at what has caused this shadow. And it's not that it is any less frightening - things like sharks and spiders may generate a certain general level of phobic background noise but can sometimes be faced, addressed and weakened while others simply remain consistently potent - but that I have begun to understand it and its hold on me.
Fear can be toxic. Paralytic. Corrosive.
It can stop us dead in our tracks and rattle our foundations - - but there is a thin silver lining to it, if we take a moment to see what it is that it's telling us.
Are we afraid of the dark? That is the voice of our imagination, creating monsters in the shadowy places - learn to guide our imaginations and give every villain a hero, every creature a nickname too silly to fear.
Is it rejection that keeps us too scared to act? Then we know we care about what we do, who we are, and the opinions and feelings of others. We should use that emotion to reach out, to care, to assist others with the burdens they carry, or to spread some of the joy and hope we feel with others.
Do we fear death? Then we must embrace life - live every day as it it is our last. Live with integrity, with courage, with hope that the good deeds we perform will live on after we are gone.
We cannot stop fear - like doubt being a part of faith, fear is a part of hope. Knowing something is, well, it takes no energy. Flipping on a light switch when you know that the light will come on - it's no test of our courage. But hoping for something, fearing something, believing something - and then wrestling up the strength to do it anyway, in spite of or because of those fears... well, then it is a victory.
I can't say I'll never be afraid of something. I can't say my life will be wholly without fear. But I'm going to live it, anyway. I'll hope. I'll believe.
And, this holiday season, that's my wish for you, too. Hope. Believe. Have joy.
Have a wonderful season, my friends. You're awesome.