Monday, July 29, 2013

Fear is not my friend ~ My Column from Sunday's Paper

Franklin Roosevelt was an inspirational leader. During the Great Depression, at one of the darkest hours in America’s history, he said, “There’s nothing to fear, but fear itself.”

With the economy in shambles, that was a pretty gutsy thing to say.

His quote got me thinking this week about fear and how it affects us. Fear is one of the most destructive emotions in the universe. It’s worse than anger.

While anger usually subsides after the cause is removed, fear remains inside and grows like a tumor,
unless you confront it.

The fear of mice, snakes and spiders seems to be hardcoded into our DNA.

I know for a fact that most non-poisonous snakes are beneficial, and some even kill poisonous snakes.

But if you ask people why the snake crosses the road, many of them will say it’s because he wants to die a horrible skid-marked death. Many feel that ANY snake is capable of eating small children and pets.

While sneaky, crawly creatures top most people’s fear list, there are many other documented types of fear for the more discerning “frady cats.”

People are afraid of everything from Ablutophobia, which is the fear of washing or bathing, to Zelophobia, which is the fear of jealousy, with dozens of phobias in between.

Fear of what other people will think or say is perhaps the most brutal of all.

People told Jilda in the past that they would never come to a yoga class because they’d be afraid that people would look at them.

They’re afraid of looking foolish.

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve looked foolish, I could have retired out of high school.

So where does all this fear come from? Wikipedia defines fear this way:

Fear is an emotion induced by a perceived threat, which causes entities to quickly pull far away from it and usually hide. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger.

Children, for the most part, are fearless. They’ll try anything. If they hear music, they will start bobbing their heads, they will start moving their legs and dance a little jig whether they can dance well or not. They couldn’t care less if someone laughs at them.

But somewhere along the way, we learn to fear. There are people who would rather donate a kidney than to look stupid.

I’m not immune to fear either. I consider myself a writer and I’ve been working on some projects for a few years.

I’ve outlined, mind mapped, daydreamed, and sketched out three separate novels. I’ve written about 40 first chapters, but there’s a copper headed rattle moccasin that’s preventing me from finishing my first draft. What could I be afraid of? Failure?

Simply writing these words has been therapeutic, because I’ve actually written down what I could not bring myself to say.

I should have been listening to the words of a song that Jilda and I wrote over twenty years ago.

Keep your feet on the ground as you reach for the sky

It’s no sin to fail until you fail to try

When bad seeds are planted, the harvest is thin

You can’t fly like an eagle on the wings of a wren.

My new mantra is: Fear Is Not My Friend.

7 comments:

  1. You're absolutely right. Well said.

    Love,
    Janie

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  2. When I'm angry I'm atleast taking some kind of action..many times I'm not too proud of myself later! With fear I'm just paralyzed..not sure if I should take action. I just heard a talk on Sunday about the difference between being child-like and being childish...fear may keep us from being child-like because we're afraid of looking childish. Anyway, I loved this column and it's truths...I wonder how many great or inspiring things could have happened in this world but didn't because of a simple fear that someone may have. Hey, finish that novel! You can do it!

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  3. Fear is a terrible crippler. It can keep people from seeking answers that could change their lives. Great piece here, Rick! xo Diana

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  4. I love the song--it speaks the truth!!

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  5. Yep fear can be pretty darn debilitating. However, I don't think I'll ever get over my fear of spiders :)

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  6. Thanks for sharing this one, Rick. Yes, and sometimes it is those seemingly little fears that can keep is hamstrung.

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  7. I believe there are two kinds of fears. Irrational fears and fears based on intuition. The wiser we become the better we can distinguish between these two kinds of fears.
    By the way, I love spiders. I'm not afraid of them.

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