I once worked as a fitness intern at a retreat center somewhere in Vermont. Along with the other interns, I led hikes every morning and assisted in classes. Because, the guests cycled through the class dialogues remained cloyingly staged. One liners and hollow motivational nuggets abounded.
But one of the lines stuck in my head…
FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real
Now, yes, that line is cliché. And, yes, there is always an exception. (Guns are pretty much just plain scary…) But, fear is not narrating your story. At least you do not have to allow it to.
One of my favorite Buddhist takes on fear speaks about how we ‘battle’ Fear by respecting it, acknowledging it, and simply (HA!) not ‘doing what our Fear says’. The idea is not to bully it but rather to notice and experience our fears (real or imagined) and not take their bait. That’s how we ‘slay’ our fears. Or just kitty-ize them.
This is not what we are doing…
Warning: RANT ahead!
We are yelling, fighting, starving, and patrolling neighborhoods with weapons. Yes. We sadly are…
Why? What’s so terrifying about a smile and a pause? What’s so scary about being wrong? Or, at least OPEN?
Laughs aside, I DO think fear is a problem. Especially, when it leads our lives. Whether it keeps us in doors (literal ones or ones of our mental constructs) or it unhinges our experience of this AMAZING world outside our doors, fear must be acknowledged but never act as knowledge. Life is too big for that. And, we do life and ourselves a disservice when we have it any other way.
I wanted to share an exert from an article reacting to the tragic Trayvon Martin shooting (may we all take a loving pause) and how it relates to our consciousness on fear. I find the writings scarily true.
“We live in a terrified age. You can’t ride a bicycle without a helmet. You can’t knock on your neighbor’s door. You can’t go on the Internet and talk to strangers because the People You Don’t Know are Bad and Dangerous.
Not as dangerous as you are. You stab and stab at the shadowy Beast and discover it is nothing but a scared boy running along the beach.
Nice people don’t have racism, these days. What they have is something else. Localized fear. Fear of the life outside the gates. You go here. We’ll go here. This is your street. This is my street. This is my school. This is your school. Stay where you don’t look Out Of Place to George Zimmerman, and you’ll be safe.” (Source)
When did we decide not feel safe? Oh right– when it got scary… When we collectively decided to honor our Fear above all. Could we stop?
Remember Vermont: False Evidence Appearing Real(ity).
Or, it could be! Anyone else think it’s kitty-ize time? 😛