When to stop. When to go. When to speak. When to bite my tongue. When to look. When to turn a blind eye. When to breathe. When to hold my breath.
These are things I don’t know. And yet, we’ve been acquainted many times before. I’m like a bashful child pulling on her mother’s leg, dreading the approaching lady pushing the cart, and her two kids – we’ve met before, but we don’t know each other too well.
Today, my mother’s leg has been replaced by a comfort zone so large, I live to maintain it. The lady pushing the cart is life itself. Her two kids are everything I fear. Fear is not always a gun to the head or a monster in the dark. Rather, fear is all from which I maintain discretion and dance behind curtains to avoid.
It takes on a life of its own; it presents itself as an inanimate thing and all of a sudden, it has become a shadow looming so imposingly over your own that you decide it must have opened its mouth and swallowed you whole already. You begin to have conversations. Fear jumps down your throat and steals your autonomy. You’re not ready to negotiate with fear. Ideally, fear is not to be negotiated with.
Before they had become fear, the woman’s two children were, to me, unknowns. Truthfully, they remain unknowns. Fear deludes us into believing that this feeling comes from an honest assessment of the unknown. But fear had existed long before the unknown presented itself to me. In my life, fear is manifested by stagnation: an inability to move forward. There is no quick fix for this. To say that a change of spirit will necessarily rid me of fearfulness is a symptom of disillusionment.
Fear always comes from experiencing failure. It may be perceived or painfully felt. It may be a failure to protect oneself or a failure to succeed. However, failure is most often not self-originating and I think that is a liberating truth.
In this life, we are born into love for the most part. Despite this, there is worry abuzz throughout our existence. I don’t have many answers for the question of why, but I am proposing a how. Fear of the unknown is not a fear of change. If it were, why would we still lament the loss of freedom to do and to become?
In my life, fear often began as doubt. Doubt is healthy and humbling. It only turns into something ugly when we tend to it and encourage it to prosper. The agriculture of fear is a product of community, which is more often than not the experiences that have contextualized our development. Understandably, looking into ourselves becomes a feat much larger than ourselves.
To feel fear in the face of the unknown does not mean the context of your growth is faulty. Rather, it’s a reminder that your experiences today and their validity are under constant cross-examination by all the experiences that preceded them.