fear

I’ve been rethinking my daily habits recently. With spring on the wing, I can’t wait to not only shed winter clothes and layers, but also winter habits. Sure, every spring I say, “I’ll exercise. I’ll eat better. I’ll go outside and read more. I’ll engage my loved ons on a daily basis.” But one way or another, the short summer months flee and November has me wondering, “What can I ‘get by with’ today just march a little closer to the spring?” Then the cycle begins again.

Why?

I was in a GTD mode and meditating why with so many resources I could think creatively about something and organize those thoughts, yet not move forward. I started to probe deeper and realized I feel a part of me has been living partially paralyzed, like a stroke victim. I was holding myself back from opportunities to learn, to create, to experience. Why? Then I let my mind wonder back over time and place and I realized, somewhere along my lifetime, fear slowly crept into my daily life like a residue. Particularly like that thin film of milk that sticks to the bottom of a tall glass that has sat for a dozen minutes.

Now, before you think I am getting all new-age or a head case, I’ll share a little of where I think this came from. When I was in high school, I was quite fearless. I really made the most of opportunities and never looked back. I was comfortable with myself, my daily life, and the people I surrounded myself with. Yet, as I grew older, responsibilities accumulated. I pursued the performing art of music, which only introduces more doubts and uncertainties. I started to think everything was under a microscope. Sure, I always had a nagging part in the back of my head that worried what people thought when I stood up to sing. That voice only got louder as my experience and exposure grew. But more damaging was the fear that doubt begat.

I started hesitate, pause, lose my swagger. I would think of the next great thing I wanted to do, to learn, to share. Then, unconsciously, I would hide behind excuses that would keep me from doing, from being. I would look at friends I had admired do something I wanted to do and think, “I can’t do that as good as them. They have a talent, an ability, that I can’t learn. Well, no use in trying.” I would carry and embrace the crutch of “what will people think if I fail?” This now has grown into affecting my daily life and the unique talents and abilities I possess. I drag out simple tasks. I come upon people, always with my best face, but feel I don’t have something to offer. I reach out to learn but mentally sit down, taking a break from what I believe to be too long and too tall a mountain to climb just to reach basic proficiency with others.

I am tired of fear. Not with a capital “F”, it’s not like I can’t leave the house or that I cry myself to sleep or something. Just a little twinge. A little hesitiation that fertilizes the seed of doubt before becoming a weed of fear. Not returning a call. Not saying hello to someone. Not doing something good for myself for fear of disappointing myself. How crazy is that?

Enough. Psalm 27 says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, of whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?” Period. Its so simple.

So, I am going to start engaging myself a little more. I am going to physically defeat fear and move about, exercise, run. leap, jump, bike, and dance more. I will probably be slow and people will see my fat jiggle. Fine. I will show up at CSO rehearsal in the fall and no one will notice I’m more fit. Great. So what? I don’t care. I am going to defeat fear mentally and learn how to build a small shed, plant a garden, script in programming languages, create databases, read about Schubert, learn new music and market myself. My programs might not compile, the tomatoes might rot, and I will not sound like Gerard Souzay. OK. The sun will rise and time will march on. I will defeat fear emotionally and love my family more, kiss my wife’s neck more, stand up to rude people, and not be afraid to tell an acquaintance they are wearing a pretty skirt or their haircut is nice. Pete will probably still want to watch Sesame Street, Martha might really want to get the dishes done, and maybe I’ll get into a fist fight with some guy who drove right through a walkway. No problem. At least I tried and didn’t wait for the perfect invitation to live more.

I won’t get it all done one morning. I won’t be “fear free” by lunch. But no more living under this umbrella when the sun is perfectly clear just outside my shadow of doubt. If you see me walking down the street, engage me. I’ll need it!

Does this make sense? Do you have fear creeping into your life? Think honestly. What is keeping you in place?

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