What are you scared of? It’s one of those questions you get asked a lot as a kid. When I was a child I made arbitrary decisions, as one does, based on a mixture of desire to fit in and lack of self knowledge. At one point I said “heights” in “My Book About Me”. My mother pointed out how I was drawn to edges. I think that I might have been drawn to them because I knew I was scared. But as an adult that fear is gone. Perhaps because I kept looking at it until it went.
Similarly spiders. Fear of spiders was a pretty acceptable fear at school, although I think I was just paying lip service. I was a kid that spent hours every day lifting up stones to see what was living underneath them. When you do that, there’s a high chance of uncovering a fat spider with a thick tunnel web that has been nesting there for years undisturbed.
Fear of speaking in public? Well we all know where that one went.
I’ve been getting other people to talk about their fears today, in detail. Some people have said things like “I’m scared of losing someone I love.” Others are more generic: “spiders, sharks, death, Trump”. One woman said “rape”. That was an uneasy moment as there’s no way of making light of it. But I thanked her for her honesty and bemoaned a world where that is an honest response. One guy said “nothing”. It didn’t take long to establish that was a lie.
But since I was examining other people’s fear, asking them to be honest, and mocking them if they weren’t I got to thinking about my own fear. As with childhood, so with adulthood, I try to look my fears in the face when I discover them. But the problem with fear is we put it to the side of our consciousness, even as we service it. If you have been fed a constant diet of fear of the other, as many have, it affects how you think of the people you haven’t met but have been told about. You can subscribe to the Daily Mail and still be a generous, kind, loving individual to everyone you know personally irrespective of race or creed. But you’ll probably have assumptions that have dripped on over time about whatever the bête noir of the month is. Currently Muslims and socialists, I think. Although “Freddie from the tennis club is voting Corbyn and he’s lovely.”
So what have I been ignoring? A few people put on the form: “fear of myself”. That’s something I’ve been working through this year. I think – I know – that I’ve been habitually self sabotaging and self negating for years. I treat everyone else’s home better than my own. It’s why I travel so well. This year has been about going after what I want, and accepting that it’s okay to want it. I’m still going two steps forward and one step back. But once you know the name of something then you have power over it. Here’s Marianne Williamson. It’s on the door of millions of loos across the world, and tea towels and painstaking tapestries from Grandma. But as with all these overblown clichés it’s so frequently trotted out because she nailed it. Just change “God” to “God as I understand it” and you’ll be grand.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
I’m in Soho. It’s very nearly sunset. Wahoo!