I fear driving in big cities; steep ski slopes; cocktail parties; incurable, unexplained, chronic diseases.
I fear being stuck and lost in the woods / ocean; attacked in the dark when I'm alone.
I fear that everyone else knows my achievements and talents are mediocre.
I fear losing my family; having no friends; being misunderstood.
These seem like a random collection of situations, but they're basically three types of fear:
- fear of pain and suffering--car crashes, diseases, hurting
- fear of humiliation
- fear of being alone, unaccepted and unloved.
What can I do? I am fallible, I have weaknesses and blindspots, I am limited.
So then, what? Give up? Accept that I can't handle what life dishes out and drift along? Some days, the option seems enticing, but human beings are wired with perseverance, hope, and perhaps even a dash of extravagant optimism. So I face some fears headlong and remove myself from others.
I've driven in downtown Chicago, Kuala Lumpur, Dublin, and Melbourne (the last three using stick shift and on the other side of the road), shedding pounds in sweat.
I've picked myself up from crashing into tree stumps on my skis and being knocked over by poma lifts; falling for the first four days of a ski trip and finally skiing on the fifth.
At cocktail parties, I used to position myself behind punch bowls to avoid making small talk with strangers and have now progressed to asking people about themselves so I don't have to talk.
I am taking a self-defense class and avoid dark, unknown places (and woods and deep oceans.)
I show my love to my family and friends and hope they know that I do.
I keep doing what I do: write, play the piano, compose, sing, cook, think in the most honest and passionate way I can, and deliberately and persistently push aside thoughts of what others may think of my efforts.
Bottom line is, I believe my fear is here to stay, and may even be merited. But I have to face it by whatever ways I can. Some days, I will cower, other days, I may find courage somewhere.