"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 love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death." ~ Thomas Paine
We hide ourselves in places, deep within, fractured identities, layers of our personality. Buried. Who we are and who we’ve been, and, more often than not, who we want to become. God knows, I’ve hidden who I’m scared to be, so deep sometimes, I forget she’s there. I think I’m protecting myself, that’s the idea, the reason behind my doing this, hiding from me. The truth of the matter is, this ends up hurting me more than it does protect me, sure, I take less risks for myself, I play it safe when it comes to my passions, I die a little slower. but. Tell me, does that sound like much of a life? This, dying slowly.
Now, I’ll have it be known that I don’t do this all the time, or with everything, sometimes I have no choice but to move, closer to my “goals,” I mean, they’re definitely getting me somewhere. These “goals.” Don’t worry, I haven’t been here just wasting time, not anymore than the rest of us. Well, debatable, but, you know what I mean. Or maybe you don’t. Maybe that doesn’t matter. I know less and less these days. What I do know is that I hide the parts of me that I think will get me into trouble, and, somehow, in my hiding them, I get into trouble anyway. The irony of life, collateral beauty, it’s always so. consistently paradoxical.
"Remember your dreams and fight for them. You must know what you want from life. There is just one thing that makes your dreams become impossible: the fear of failure." ~ Paulo Coelho
It’s normal to stay in a comfort zone, to fear moving forward, to wait — suspended in the familiar fog. Most of the time it’s so thick that we can’t see, almost suffocating, we grow used to this life. barely breathing. It rolls in slowly and it never lifts, we live, burdened, drowning under the familiar weight. heavy. These lungs of ours weren’t built to inhale the pressure, they were never meant to be denied their right to air. but we wait. stumbling. blindly. gasping in thickened fog.
People think I’m brave, and I am, but that’s not the whole story. We all have our story, the one we cover up under at night, blanketing ourselves, protecting us from all our familiar ghosts, the persistent ones at least, you know the type, the ones that always haunt us. We all have our blankets of fear, the fears we cling to, tightly. It sounds funny, even writing it, that we cling to fear as if our lives depended on it. Oh the illusions we create, the ones that we believe in. stifling. Our fears all look so different, personalized, individual, like us, I’m not sure any two are the same. Yet, they all share one common thread, the feeling they instill — dread, terror, pain, panic.
"The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time." ~ Mark Twain
My fear feels like suffocating, being buried alive, maggots infesting my skin. rotting. coming apart from within, buried deep, under the ground. lost. isolated, no one looking for me. forgotten. walls closing in. I’m there, in that coffin, scratching, fingers bleeding. Pitch black, spiders crawling, I can’t see them, but I can feel them. The trouble with this anxiety is that it’s always there. silent. Hell is burning, you’ll see it, buried, just beneath my skins surface. You see, I subdue it, this fear, I make it empty promises that one day I’ll release it. I keep it hoping, my fear, I keep her locked in the basements of my mind, asleep, dreaming of freedom. After all, this is why she haunts me.
That’s what my fear feels like, now I’ll tell you what she looks like. She looks like an intricate amalgam, Type-A and Type-B coalesce, a beautiful love affair. She looks like rosy cheeks and bright smiles, not an ounce of suffering on her face. She looks intelligent, accomplished, like school degrees and honor societies, after all, there never seem to be enough awards to fill her insecurities. She looks like virtue, has it easy, endless successivity. A walking contradiction, she fits into most crowds, but she also stands out in one, and not because of what you’d think. There’s something about her, strength, wit, an unshakeable beauty that’s far more than skin deep, way beyond the physical. This is what my fear looks like, she feels like a slow death. suffering. but she looks like grace, filled to the brim with life. My point, if you haven’t gotten it, is that we hide ourselves, well, I’ll be brave and speak for me, only me. I hide myself, and sometimes it’s the best parts.
"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
You see, people think I’m brave, and I am, but that’s not the whole story. I hide the different facets of my being, separated boxes, I divvy them out, clear and obscure, organized chaos. misplaced luggage. dusty. useless. forgotten. I neatly label the ones I’m prepared to show the world, after all, I’m just being me. Then again, part of me, the trouble you see, is it’s not the full story. I once wrote that I crave to be seen, all of me. The truth is that I do, but the part I left out was I wasn’t sure how I would feel if it ever happened. I ask for lots of things, and some of them I actually want, it’s just, sometimes I don’t know which “some” that is. Welcome to the human condition. It’s hard to know what something feels like unless we’ve experienced it, but then again, we’re imaginative creatures that have the capability of experiencing things through thought, things that we haven’t yet “experienced” physically, so, like I said, welcome to the human condition, I guess I’m still figuring it out.
"Have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing that I am with you, therefore no harm can befall you; all is very, very well. Do this in complete faith and confidence." ~ Pope John Paul II
I want to tell you a story. You know what my fear feels like, you know what she looks like. You might even be able to understand the complexity of such synchronous dichotomy, maybe. So, now, I’d like to share more with you, since, you know, we’ve gotten this far. I’d like to tell you of a rare instance, one in which I found what I was craving, and in that moment, discovered how I felt to know it, I discovered which “some” it belonged to, the “some” that, apparently, I indeed wanted. This craving to be seen. So tell me, will you bear with me?
It isn’t often we meet somebody that we care for, well, I’ll be more specific, I’m sure we all care for lots of people, so I’ll rephrase: it isn’t often we meet someday that’s willing to put in the work to get to know us. All of us. Now, I don’t mean the “us” that was categorized into those separate and neatly labeled boxes, no, I mean somebody who doesn’t fill in the blanks, somebody who takes the time to fill out the puzzle, piece by piece, without regret. Somebody who listens, both to what we say and to what we don’t, there’s so much to be learned in the things we don’t say. Someone who is, well. paying attention. While it’s rare that we meet someone like this, it happens, and I’m lucky enough to be so blessed. You see, someones like this, they call you out, regardless of whether they think you want to hear it or not. Somebodies like this, they don’t care. Well, they do, actually, I guess that’s my point — they care more about you than they care about your annoyance with their honesty. Someones like this, they’d be willing to lose you, so long as it meant that things weren’t unsaid. They live in the sands of the dust, distant and spinning, violent clouds of healing disruption. The heroes of the modern age, cape-less and humble, they mistakenly think themselves futile. Oh how wrong the heroes can be, when they fail to see themselves, rightly.
"Fear is a powerful beast. But we can learn to ride it." ~Justine Musk
I’d like to tell you about the metaphorical cliff, above those warm and shark-infested waters. I want to tell you of the fear, that I’m really only scared when I’m not moving, when I’m not doing all I can to live my life, free, with utter abandon. Living for myself. You see, it’s the thinking about jumping that scares me, frozen on the edge, pacing, back and forth. indecisive. I’m filled with fear before the jump, and I find myself less scared when I’m running towards it. This dear, somebody, reminded me that there’s no guarantee that I’ll swan dive the first time I throw myself into the water, and that’s okay. The point in jumping isn’t that I’ll have the perfect fall, it’s that if I don’t jump a first time, I’ll always be on that cliff. fearful. pacing. Tell me, is that the life I want to live?
"Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence. Inaction is not only the result, but the cause, or fear. Perhaps the action you take will be successful; perhaps different action or adjustment will have to follow. But any action is better than no action at all." ~ Norman Vincent Peale
I’ve been hiding parts of myself, and somebody told me they’re the best parts, even though they’re the scared parts. You see, our fears all look different, but sometimes they feel a whole hell of a lot like they’re the same. We all know what fear feels like, we just don’t always know what she looks like. This fear, she takes many forms. I lock her in rooms, dreaming, but what if I kept my promise and freed her? What would she become then? Tell me, please. I have a curiosity, an unending desire to know.