At this point in my life, I have known only a handful of people who were fearless. I have no ideas how they came into life this way, and I’m not sure they do either. In fact, some of them cannot recognize fear when they see it. I remember talking with a fearless friend who asked me what was wrong with one of our companions. When I said simply, “Well, she’s afraid,” he could not imagine why. Blessed folks these. How wonderful it must be to have no root of fear in the mind at all!
I know fear …
Now I do not happen to be one of these. I know fear; I have experienced it, and I understand it. There is, of course, existential fear, which involves possible injury or loss of life through illness, accident or dangerous situations; and there is the more common fear that occurs when the really-creatively fearful can make up scary scenarios that may or may not ever happen, yet the juices are at work. Common fear would be the easiest to dismantle if we do not become addicted to the mind-clouding, heart-rattling mindset that immediately forms when something frightening confronts us. Believe me, it is worth the effort to work at thinking through, praying through, walking through the bug-a-boo before us, one step at a time, one episode at a time because we may need all our heart forces to face an existential fear that sometimes surfaces. Then we will need all our practice fear reducers to serve us.
Take heart, friends!
We have lots of company. If we are presently fully engaged in living, every day there will be something dark and dismal to walk through, something that can scare the be-Jesus out of us if we let it. The media will see to that. And when we do put one foot in front of the other and keep our minds and hearts under control, no matter how tenuous, passing through whatever we must, I call that learned, cultivated courage.
Courage is a badge of honor …
For my money, such courage is a badge of honor we should wear quietly within our hearts. We’ve earned it.
Contact Margaret Stortz at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out her blog Essays On Everything. This piece first appeared in Margaret’s blog on 2/9/16
Contact Antonia at Antonia@TheJoyofAgingGratefully.com