Friday, July 29, 2011

Break on through to the other side.

You're in the street late at night. You see a dark shape ahead. Your heart races. You notice your breathing. You feel the sweat on your palms and the thrill of fear in your belly. The automatic part of you gets you ready to run. It's ok though because you realise that the dark shape is just a ladder leaning benignly against a wall. From there it's a quick return to feeling normal. You let our your breath and your body relaxes.

Or not. The rest of your trip home is a bit frantic. Your head snapping from side to side. Your legs have a mind of their own and there's the feeling of being pushed along from behind by an invisible hand. Full scale panic is a hairs breadth away. It's ok though you've good reason to be on alert. You are alone on a dark street at night and you know what can happen. It's happened before......

Or not. In fact you are surrounded by people at a party. You're not sure what triggered your panic, but you are tense. Your heart is pounding. Your breathing is rapid. You have to get out of there. You signal your partner using the private, much practised, non-verbal signal designed for this occurrence. Because as usual your panic takes away your ability to excuse yourself politely.

Fear and panic. Hand and glove. Or not?
I fear something that does not make my heart pound or my breathing ragged. It's source is a shapeless, formless, intangible, hovering monster that dwells behind a door that I lock securely. I have cataloged it as the fear that I will do a bad job and fail. To keep the door locked that separates me from this monster, I busy myself with a million other tasks or I simply do nothing at all. Both of these strategies work for me, but both of them are torture.

I believe that this is what we should fear the most, because holding ourselves back, running away, and locking the door is so much worse than facing the monster. I know that it's only when I face any fear head on that it vaporises, or that perhaps it was never made of anything at all.