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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fear of (fill in the blank)

So last night I was reading a book of interviews, in which Coleman Barks quoted the following of his own translation of Rumi:

Keep walking, though there’s no place to get to.
Don’t try to see through the distances.
That’s not for human beings. Move within,
but don’t move the way fear makes you move.

When I read that, immediately I realized that given the issues I have been struggling with recently, I have begun to do exactly that: move the way fear makes me move. So how exactly do I escape that impulse, I wondered. Then I remembered this aphorism from James Richardson's Vectors:


121. The worst part of fear is not knowing what to do. And often you only have to ask What would I do if I were not afraid? to know what to do, and do it, and not be afraid.

So that's the new plan. Again. 

And since I was thinking of fear, I looked up a few random other quotes about fear that have been meaningful to me over the years. Here they are:
Let go of grief. Let go of joy. Let go of hope. Let go of fear. Let go of history. Let go of coming and going. Let go of culture. Let go of waiting. Let go of letting go.  
Rudolph Wurlitzer from Hard Travel to Sacred Places

I wanted to find one law to cover all of living. I found fear.
Anne Carson from "The Anthropology of Water"
 ...remember fear for what it is: a resistance to the unknown.
Terry Tempest Williams

When I was in my 20s, a friend said to me, "You are fearless. You'll try anything." I had to explain to her that in fact I was consumed with fear. Getting out of bed in the morning caused great anxiety in me. But since everything made me afraid and anxious, I didn't distinguish between experiences that made people with normal fear responses feel fearful and everyday situations that caused worry in me. Since on any given day I had already overcome 58 other fearful situations before being asked if I wanted to do something that would make a person with a good grip of reason feel fearful, I would think, Yeah sure, I'll try it; what's one more terrifying thing to try today?

Somewhere along the line I lost that ability to manage my distress. But I've got to get it back. Fear, my one constant. You think I'd be better at this by now.

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