I read this quote by Marilyn Ferguson on a website I like, “Fear is a question: what are you afraid of and why? Just as the seed of health is in illness, because illness contains information, our fears are a treasure-house of self knowledge if we explore them.”
I don’t really understand what she meant by, “the seed of health is in illness,” but I do know that when I’m afraid, I feel sick. I get jittery, or my guts hurt, or my blood pressure rises or I’m just pissed off and annoying to be around. At some stage I started asking the question, “What am I afraid of?” I’m thinking about emotional fear, not the heart-thumping adrenaline fear that comes from actual physical danger. Just the run of the mill fears like, “Will this make me look stupid?” Or “Will I lose a friend if I tell this truth?”or “Will this piss so-in-so off?” or “Will I be judged, disliked, talked about…whatever?” If I follow those fear thoughts to their logical conclusions they seem to boil down to the fear of emotional pain, not to mention, pitifully egocentric. Some of them are downright ridiculous, as there are basically no life choices that come with blanket approval from everyone. Even kindness can get you in trouble if the right person witnesses it. And to live for the approval of others? Doesn’t sound like much of a life.
And please tell me, where did anyone ever get the idea that it is inherently “wrong,” to piss off another human? (I’m not saying it’s ok to be a judgy bitch or mean!) But in the course of relating, making someone mad or making them cry? Just emotions, nothing unusual there, why do we fear causing them?
I wrote one time of letting my fears for my kids safety play mind games with me and literally stop me in the tracks of life until I faced it. I talked about living in the, “I don’t know space,” which is actually just accepting the reality that no one knows what is coming around the bend, day-to-day. I’m wondering if anyone else is like me and has had trouble with that reality, because damn if it doesn’t reveal fear. Makes me ask another question, is it possible that some of our lists, plans, organization and life decisions are attempts to quell the fear, of not really being in control?
Another Mom and I were talking about being consistent with how we discipline our kids and I kept questioning it. I was wondering, since life is not really “consistent,” but rather ever changing, why do we feel the need to supply consistency? I get modeling an even emotional keel, to show them that whatever comes, they can handle it. But even that can go wrong because sometimes, howling at the moon is a healthier reaction than an even keel. I talked about grief at some point as well and keep coming back to the realization that when the big stuff hits, nobody is prepared for it. It just hurts, there is no prep that isn’t masochistic.
So maybe acceptance of pain is the way to go. If we walk around knowing that pain is a slice of life, then we don’t have to be afraid to live as we see fit.
“…the terrible and the terrific spring from the same source, and that what grants life its beauty and magic is not the absence of terror and tumult but the grace and elegance with which we navigate the gauntlet.”
Polish poet and Nobel laureate Wislawa Szymborska