What would it be like to be fearless? Or even minimally fearful? I’ve wondered, indeed fantasized, about that so often. Ahhhhhhhh. Wouldn’t it be perfectly lovely?
Well, today I started to change up my thinking. Maybe there’s an under-appreciated gift in being fearful. Not merely because of the self-preservation aspect that hard-wired our ancestors for fear to help them, and us, avoid danger.
I’m realizing that being fearful also allows us to connect with more people and at a deeper level. It heightens our compassionate experience. As humans, we’re all afraid of something. And if you’re fearful, maybe it gives you, me, the opportunity to be able to relate more closely and more often to other human types.
Rather than dismissing or ignoring or belittling someone else’s fear, you get it. Totally. And you get them, at least more readily.
Afraid of spiders? Clowns? Public speaking and performing? New foods? The ocean? Cooking? Social situations? Dancing? No, I’m not, or not much. But I completely understand if you are. I wonder how you handle your fear? I support your “playing through it.” And I’m intrigued that we’re all so different and yet the same.
Sure, I could be rationalizing. But it seems like more fun than continuing to flog myself for all of the fears. While I’m still aiming to reduce the number of catalysts of fear, my personal flock of demons, I’m also trying to keep on keepin’ on in the face of fear.
Oh! So, I maybe what I’m really after is courage. Righto, courage is not the absence of fear. Courage actually demands more from us. Remember the wise words of Nelson Mandela? “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
I think of my 3 role models for fearlessness, my husband, my best friend from childhood, and my new dancer pal/hero, who always take my breath away with their huge spirits. But maybe what they’re displaying is courage: they all have fears, but they brave those nemeses.
On the eve of another performance about which I’m very excited, but also nervous, I’m noticing those around me being a little bit “off,” too. The giddy laughter, the scattered mental state, the gallows humor, the impatience or super-slowness. I come to recognize they’re nervous, too. But what’s so cool is that despite that, we’re all going to hop on that performance raft and sail together for what promises to be a thrilling, and at times nerve-racking, ride. We’re creating beauty and art in the face of fear. Yahoo.
Or, to switch to John Wayne’s metaphor, “Courage is being scared to death…and saddling up anyway.” Happy trails to you :).