Sunday, February 15, 2015

Fear

Fear is something I've had to encounter or hold throughout this journey to date, and I'm sure it will be my constant companion for many months yet to come. I think much of what we do or don't do in life is motivated by fear. When I started doing Crossfit a couple years ago, I came across this quote from Rich Froning, a competitive Crossfitter (here's the clip to the motivational video, quote begins around 2:45; update on January 29th 2017, that video has been removed. Here's the link to another, quote begins around 2:30--different guy, not sure where the quote originated at this point, but love it just the same): 

Cheers to Fears

".....find a fear. That fear will either create you or destroy you. I love fear. Reason why? Behind every fear is a person you want to be. Fear is self-imposed. Meaning it doesn't exist. You create it. You can destroy it too. It's an intangible. If you face your fears guys, you'll realize it's not that big."

When I begin to feel uneasy, or scared, I ask myself, "what is the fear?" Once I identify it, then I try to see who I could become if I can work past the fear. If I can destroy it or make it disintegrate. Sometimes the person I see on the other side of the fear is unfamiliar and I'm not yet sure how to reach her, or how to assimilate her into me, but I push through anyway. I trust that there will be a reconciliation and keep faith that what I don't yet know or understand will become illuminated. 

But something that has served me well across these past 193 days is to put a name on fears. When I feel unquiet in my mind, or what I refer to as twitchy, then I know that it is time to journal, to WRITE IT DOWN. To put an actual name to what it is that is making me uneasy. The simple act of writing it down immediately lessens its power. Perhaps it's in the act of discernment and naming that the unknown element is eliminated? Which reminds me of FDR's famous quote: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Yes, once you name your fear, then fear is no longer that scary monster under your bed that has no shape or form. It's far easier to slay a dragon once you know what type of sword you'll need and from which angle to approach. 

Here are some fears I've laid out in my path along this journey (beginning this fall as we communicated online):

  • What if this (the love) isn't real?
  • What if it is?
  • How can we be together?
  • Will he come here? 
  • What if I go there?
  • Will we understand one another well enough? 
  • Is having a cultural divide in a relationship too much to overcome?
  • What will I do for work?
  • What will my family say? My friends? 
  • Is it all just a midlife crisis?
  • Can I learn a language at this age? 
  • Mongolian seems so hard!
  • Will they accept me into their world? Their culture?
  • Will his son like me? 
  • Will his parents accept me?
  • Is is possible to assimilate into a completely different world?
  • Can I really box up my life and move 6K miles away?
  • Am I crazy to want this so much?

There are so many, many more. But these are some of the thoughts, the fears, that rattle around in my brain. Sometimes they are fleeting, like a dandelion seed on the wind, and other times they take root and grow like Russian thistle...until I name them and yank them out, and then they become tumbleweed that are blown clear from the fields of my mind. 

Yes, you must face your fears. But first, you must name them. Give them a form, a shape. Then you decide if you are going to walk through them to see whom you might become. It isn't always the time or place to do so, only you can decide that. But do not allow them to be monsters in your mind, growing larger with the energy of darkness. Bring them into the light, and choose your course of action. 

I will leave you with a few other quotes about fear:

  • "Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones."  ~Thich Nhat Hanh
  • "We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light."  ~Plato
  • "I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear."  ~Rosa Parks
  • "Always do what you are afraid to do." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • "One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn't do."  ~Henry Ford

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