Thursday, October 16, 2008

We Shall Not Overcome

Deb at San Diego Momma is hosting PROMPTuesday #26: And We Shall Prevail, except that you may have noticed that today is Thursday, which means that at Blog This Mom! PROMPThursday is the new PROMPTuesday. At least this week.

Apparently Deb does not like to fly (on airplanes; maybe if she had fairy wings, it would be different). So in light of her trip to New York this week, this week's prompt has no rules, and Deb asks: Can you tell me a story of a fear you’ve overcome?

Deb, this one's for you:


We Shall Not Overcome

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
~Nelson Mandela

If we listened to our intellect, we'd never have a love affair. We'd never have a friendship. We'd never go into business, because we'd be cynical. Well, that's nonsense. You've got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.
~ Ray Bradbury

A man of courage never wants weapons.
~Author Unknown


My Dearest Deb Who Flew on an Airplane,

I have tried, even desperately at times, to find safe havens from fear. A quick fix is what we all want when we’re uncomfortable. From time to time, many of us turn to overeating, alcohol, drugs, anger, chaos, or control as we seek to protect ourselves from fear. However, the very devices that we employ for protection turn out to be the sneaky and steadfast companions of fear. If we shed those companions, our fears do not magically subside. But fear loses its powerful allies.

Whether it is drowned in a martini or covered under mounds of delicious mashed potatoes, fear is still there. Patiently. Lurking. Affecting. Without the cover of anger, alcohol, food, and other quick fixes one might use to tamp down negative feelings, fear is exposed. Fearful thoughts are always about future, about outcomes. Fear is about something that could or may happen. Fear happens in our minds, keeping us awake at night, even while we lie in our cozy beds.

Fear isn’t bad. In fact, in some cases fear is a gift to be protected. To be sure, it is good to pay attention to our intuition, the hairs rising on the backs of our necks, that funny feeling we get in certain situations. But fear of that which we cannot control anyway (death, crashing planes, someone else’s actions), isn’t bad either. It is natural. Fighting a natural feeling is difficult, if not futile.

When we see fear for what it is, then awareness of the present can take over from worrying about the future, and acceptance can take over from resistance. Once the fear has surfaced, if we don’t resist it, if we accept that it is there, we realize that we cannot make fear go away, but we can act in spite of it, or even along side of it. We don’t have to be fearless to act fearlessly.

You asked me to tell you about a fear that I have overcome. For me, that would be fear itself, and I have not overcome it. In fact, I don't think I ever will. But I’m working on living fearlessly anyway. And, by golly, if that isn’t a work in progress, I don’t know what is.

Love, Blog This Mom!

20 comments:

csquaredplus3 said...

You are a very good friend. Deb is fortunate and blessed.

You should be a speech writer for... oh... the President.

Wise words - wonderful post.

Lisa Milton said...

I was just thinking about fear today too.

I think you are right: There are times we are rightfully afraid, but we move through it.

:)

Gary Rith Pottery Blog said...

Cheri, you are so very wise and I appreciate what I can learn from you. Thanks.

Minnesota Matron said...

Just had a long conversation about fear, control and faith.

Perfect follow-up post.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

You have become fearlessly eloquent.

katydidnot said...

you are brilliant and good. i am completely serious when i say that you've been a blessing in my life.

phd in yogurtry said...

I completely agree - fear was designed to be our protector. We can't overcome every fear. Just a few choice ones.

Sojourner said...

What they said! Fear is necessary. And we don't overcome all our fears, but we can face them. You are indeed wise Ms. Cheri. Great post.

CC said...

I love your last 2 sentences (not counting the "Love, Blog This Mom" of course!).

tinsenpup said...

Well that was worth the wait. I think I need to write, "Fear happens in our minds..." on my fridge or something. Very interesting perspective.

sari said...

My fear likes to make its appearance in the middle of the dark night, though I would gladly shove it under a (huge) pile of fluffy, mashed potatoes any day.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and for your kind words. I appreciate it!

kate et jim said...

Over here from Gary's, Cheri. This is such a heartfelt, beautiful way to help your friend.

By reading the words you've written, I believe, you're helping many more.

Very nice blog.

Kate & Jim

Zee said...

Who the heck are you?
I am too tired to make any sense. So I will check back when I am more alert. See you then...

Steph said...

Whoa. I'm glad you stopped my blog today. This? Was the best thing I've read all day.

GoteeMan said...

Great post!

I came to believe a statement an old friend used to make when talking about overcoming fears... "If you are afraid, that's ok, just do it afraid"...

I was once afriad if heights... still not crazy about ladders, but I became an accomplished rock climber, rappeller, and worked ropes courses to overcome my fear of heights...

Now, I only have a fear of widths - mainly, just that my width keeps growing...

J/ (goteeman.blogspot.com)

MJ said...

Apparently, I hoard fear too but don't consciously realize it. My 3 year old regularly says, "Don't worry , Mommy, I'll be okay" at whatever she's up to doing and worry is a component of fear. I tell her it's my job to worry.

Zee said...

...hmm, yes - but your other job is to trust your 3 year old. Conflict of interest???

Saucy said...

I have a morbid fear of both spiders and clowns but no desire to overcome either. Does that make me:

a) stubborn
b) stupid
c) in denial, or
d) a girl who should leave town for Halloween?

Minnesota Matron said...

This is beautiful, sort of a Sunday meditation. We had a dharma talk in which the priest said that friend is our oldest, first and most reliable, friend.

JEANNE said...

I cannot fly "tears from fear" free without at least three glasses of Zinfandel. Hubby wants to take the kids to Disneyland next year so I'm having a glass right now to prepare ;-)