I’ve been thinking about fear lately. So I know that’s what I need to write about.
Actually, I had planned to write about courage, because I kept thinking about courage. And being strong in the face of adversity. That could make a good topic, right? Lots of bad stuff happening right now - uncomfortable stuff, shitty stuff, violent and dangerous stuff. So some blog article about courage could end up being inspirational, maybe. But I realized this afternoon that this had become a difficult topic for me to address. I was having a really hard time getting started, because I wasn’t feeling it.
Not in the sense of - “I’m just not in the mood.” More the literal - “I’m not feeling courageous.”
In fact I’m horribly aware of how not-courageous I’m feeling this past week. And so I needed to acknowledge how disappointed I am in myself. For a lot of past behaviors. And generally just worrying too much. Mainly for really wanting to stay holed up in my white, middle-class, suburban home binge watching a show I’ve probably already watched. All to ignore what was happening out in the world. Out in reality. But also, and perhaps most importantly, what is happening inside myself.
Because what I have been feeling is fear. Not for my safety or the continued stability of our government or economy or society. That’s a luxury I enjoy - never automatically wondering if all I take for granted will disappear suddenly. No, I fear being reminded how comfortable I am. How easily I can ignore bad things when I want to. And I fear looking too closely at all the memories and feelings I’ve successfully brushed aside or buried completely over the years.
I’ve had a pretty challenging 2020. Covid-19 and racially motivated atrocities aside. I’ve been confronted with business upheavals and increased panic attacks. I’ve been shaken by major parenting shocks and failed artistic leaps of faith. And my dog died last month. Enough already. I’m tired. That’s what I thought last week. When courage and strength and growth were still on my schedule.
This week all I know is that first comes the acknowledgement of the fear. I watch as people all over the world are taking different actions out of fear. For their health, for their jobs, for their voices going unheard. Some fear the world staying closed. Some fear it opening back up. People fear for their safety and their lives. And those of their loved ones. They fear that the system and the institutions will fail or punish them. Or they fear that the failure and disrespect of the system and the institutions will devalue their lives. There are people who act out because they fear change. While others respond because they fear change still won’t come.
Many just fear feelings. I get that.
I fear my complacency. I fear my continued silence. I fear the ignorance I encourage of my own true feelings. No, I don’t feel courageous this afternoon. And so, an article about bravery would have sounded flat. Instead, I needed to explore and write through what my true, honest, authentic, meaningful feelings are. Only then can I hope for courage and strength to follow. Only from that space can I truly step forward to meet anyone else near a midway point.
Where are you starting from? Maybe we’re already closer to each other than we think.