I’ve been on this planet for 47 and a half years now, and it never occurred to me until last month that my fear might get lonely.
This is relevant because, as we all know, anything that is frightening when you are with someone else is twice as frightening when you are facing it down alone!
As the year progresses, I continue to make my way through Frank Ostaseki’s book “The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully.”
Finishing this particular book has been slow going, partly because I have the e-book and I keep forgetting I own it, and partly because it isn’t the kind of book you want to dial up for five minutes while you are waiting for a friend at happy hour (or at least not if you don’t want them to arrive and find you teary-eyed).
Not to put you off reading it – this is hands-down one of the best books I’ve ever read. It is like Don Miguel Ruiz, which if you’ve been following here for more than a few blog posts you already know is a HUGE compliment, but specifically focused on exploring the end of life process and death.
Anyway, in the chapter I just read, Frank is sharing about his friend Michael, who is slowly succumbing to multiple sclerosis. One day after returning home from the ICU yet again, Michael announced he was not going back to the ER – ever. Frank asked why. Michael responded that he was really scared.
And – pause for brilliance here – Frank replied:
That fear will never go away. The part of you that is scared will always be scared.
Happily, Michael found these words comforting, reassuring – as did I. It simply never occurred to me that my fear spends its whole life being scared. I am scared sometimes, but other times I feel something completely different. But fear – that’s all it gets. 24/7 full-immersion fear, and that must suck!
Frank then invited Michael to bring awareness of his fear into the picture, not to judge, push away, explain away, condemn or rationalize, but to befriend his fear.
Beautiful. Simply beautiful. Frank explained that awareness could be with the fear, so fear wasn’t in the middle of this big empty room full of fear all by itself.
And with awareness, Frank explained further, came compassion. For a moment, and perhaps the first moment in fear’s whole life, its presence was met with awareness and compassion. So now instead of no friends, fear had two friends – awareness and compassion.
I can’t think of two better friends to have than those two.
So I have decided my fear needs a friend too. Or maybe two friends. My fear has been alone its whole life. It has born the full weight of its fearful nature as well as my efforts to hide from it, shove it away, disguise it as something else, shout at it, insult it, condemn it, even deny its existence.
It is a fearful thing indeed to be fear in my world. It is about time my fear has a friend.
Today’s Takeaway: How do you deal with fear in your life? Do you approach it with awareness, avoid it, something in between? Do you have a mentor (of any species) who helps you when you feel fearful? I’d love to hear what works for you!