…is fear itself.
It’s a famous quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s inaugural speech and most of us have heard it at some point or another. The truth is, I never really understood this quote. Intellectually, yes, but not at my core…not until this week. I’ve been thinking about fear a lot, exploring it’s power and simplicity in my morning pages…how painful it is, how much it holds each of us back, how pervasive it’s become in our society, and yet, how easy it is to shed, when we let ourselves.
I truly believe that, almost more than anything else…a lack of talent, means, support…fear is our greatest obstacle in life. And there are two types of fear, at least that plague me. There’s the fear of trials & tribulations…those things that cause pain, suffering, discomfort, loss. But there’s also, often, the even greater fear of blessings…of our talents, capabilities, visions, power. And these fears don’t just prevent us from fully becoming who we’re supposed to be; they limit our inner peace, the contentment and love we allow ourselves, the moments we’re given…even our gods. When thinking of something good and saying, “There’s no way that could possibly happen for me,” we’ve just put a limitation on the divine. We’ve essentially said, I’m afraid and have no idea how to make this happen; therefore, no one else can know either. What possesses us to think we can know something like that? Fear…which is not knowing at all, just reacting. Yes, fear serves a purpose, but we’ve let it pervade all aspects of our lives. Some of us have taken it from a tool for survival to a state of being.
This post won’t apply to everyone. Some people, and I know such people, seem capable of waking up and walking bravely in the direction of their dreams each day, to paraphrase Thoreau. To them this will all sound obvious, something they’ve heard countless times, like that quote. But for others, like myself, we must finally feel the truth of that quote inside, let it resonate throughout us and shake us awake. When it does, when you finally break free of fear, you feel yourself pulsating with all the power and brilliance you posses…you feel free and capable of everything, ready for anything. But it can be hard to hold on to. Like when staring into the sun too long or holding onto the tale of a great dragon as it takes to flight, we inevitably turn our heads away or let go. Why? Because how can we possibly continue without getting hurt or falling or losing ourselves? We can’t. In my fear-free moments of clarity, I know for myself that the pain which comes with changing into who I’m supposed to be must be better than the pain of remaining who I am not. After all, caterpillars liquefy before they become butterflies. Why shouldn’t the sun burn our eyes…our entire beings…so that we can be reborn into whatever wondrous creatures we’re meant to be? Why not climb onto the backs of great dragons and have them drop us in unknown places where we can finally find our true selves?
Even as I write this, just like when I write my morning pages, I feel myself fill with courage, excitement and a confidence to rival any Napoleon. But when I’m done, just like when I close the pages of my journal and start my day, it will take a conscious effort not to slip back into self-doubt and fear. My husband says it best…we have to keep reminding ourselves, every day, not to be afraid…to just simply trust. I have no idea how any of this is going to turn out or what’s in store, but I refuse to be afraid…of who I am, of who I’m supposed to be, of what goodness might come my way. This is exhilarating and daunting…simple and messy. But what I’m realizing is that the only thing I can’t stomach anymore is fear.
It is not the end of the physical body that should worry us. Rather, our concern must be to live while we’re alive – to release our inner selves from the spiritual death that comes with living behind a facade designed to conform to external definitions of who and what we are.
~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross