The Litany Against Fear
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
~Frank Herbert, Dune
Mona put my hand in the fire with today's word: Fear.
Had I posted this morning from work this space would have been filled with fear: fear of making mistakes, fear of being in the wrong place, fear of not knowing what the future holds. I had a real shaking of my foundations this morning, the edge of a panic attack. What brought it on? Beats the hell out of me, but it sure beat the hell out of me. And within an hour it was gone, no signs left of it. I'm not going to write about that, because I've got the lid back on that particular can nice and tight, and I am not going to reopen it now.
And so instead, how about my personal Litany Of Fear? A small listing of things that have set that feeling prowling about the confines of my head. And perhaps in sharing them it'll lessen the impact that some of these still have on me.
I don't know how many of you know how to swim and how many of you don't, but I don't. Never learned, don't particularly care to because I've got a rather sickly fear of swimming. Not water, mind you. I adore water. Boating is a blast. I love the sensual flow of a river, love the quiet muddy meandering of a bayou, and I could happily stand at the edge of the ocean and let my spirit leave my body and join that foamy froth. It's the drowning bit that worries me, you see.
I remember the fear the first time the water closed over my face and I realised that there was about forty feet of lake under my feet. I knew everyone in the boat was too far away to help me and I was about to breathe in a huge chestful of green water. I think everyone knows that moment of pure fear--it's the moment you realise that someone has pushed you into the pool but you hadn't time to take a breath, or that you weren't ready to be in THAT deep, or you realised that you couldn't feel the bottom of the lake. It is that sick, stomach-gripping monster, it is the creature in the dark and it is the moment you realise that the step isn't there and you're going to be falling for a very long time.
I remember the fear of riding my motocycle in pouring, blinding rain and realising that the headlights I saw coming toward me meant someone had turned into the wrong lane of the highway and was about to hit me, and likely not even see me until the impact. I still feel the distant twinges of fear when some blind mook in a cage doesn't see me, is too tied up in the cellular phone or the newspaper or their own rage.
I remember the fear I felt when I realised how close I was to putting my fist through my first wife's face. She had spent what seemed like the entire day taunting me, pushing me, driving me to a red rage. She had spent the whole day pricking and jabbing me in the poisonous way that only a spouse can. She confided in me years after we were divorced that she was pushing me intentionally, just to see if I WOULD hit her. I didn't, but I remember well the fear I felt when I saw just how close I had been to releasing that white-hot anger, trailing it behind my fist like a rocket's red and burning trail. I've never been that angry since.
I remember the fear I feel falling, time and time again throughout my life. Falling from ladders. Roofs. Trees. Bicycles. Skateboards. The bed. Wondering what I was going to hit, wondering how I had gotten into this predicament, wondering if I was going to break a bone (haven't yet, not a one.)
I remember the fear of physical violence, trying to protect a friend of mine from being beaten by her ex-husband. I remember all too well the anger in his eyes, the fear in hers, and the response in my own.
Fear is always there, right around the corner. Our fears shape us, our fears change our behaviours. It keeps most of us from doing stupid things like jumping out of perfectly good airplanes or running through the city streets naked, our private parts painted bright green. (Is that really fear?) It keeps most of us from posting some of our memories of fears in public places.
Fear of being exposed before my peers. That's one that I've managed to kill. I've nothing to hide anymore, or so little that were I to share it you'd scoff at me. And I've still got a whole host of fears that I shan't share with you.
Can't give you guys TOO much ammunition, can I?
Happy Poetry Friday.