Disclaimer: The following post is written from a place of love. Please read it in its entirety, and understand that no hatred exists within me for any human being.
The psychological condition of fear is divorced from any concrete and true immediate danger. It comes in many forms: unease, worry, anxiety, nervousness, tension, dread, phobia, and so on. This kind of psychological fear is always of something that might happen, not of something that is happening now.
–from The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle
I will tell you the story of how I came to embrace fearlessness as a way of being.
Some time in the not-too-distant past, I am involved in a meditation exercise of sorts. I’m already reluctant to proceed, primarily because today’s exercise involves a request of me to explore what I fear the most. I’ll tell you what I fear the most: this meditation. But I close my eyes and briefly, with caution, allow my spirit to roam wherever it wishes, that is, until my ego realizes that my spirit is taking this exercise seriously. I quickly retreat to my warm and fuzzy comfort zone, much like a dog who detests baths, running into his kennel as the water begins to flow. But my spirit persists. To my ego’s chagrin, I eventually find that I am deep within the catacombs of myself. There are cobwebs and dust bunnies everywhere. Apparently I haven’t frequented this place in a few decades, and it makes sense. It’s damned creepy in here. And dark. Well, I tried.I turn to leave.
Of a sudden, some images begin to flicker within my imagination. Upon further exploration, I realize that I have begun to visualize a particular conversation I had with my girlfriend Alex’s parents three years ago, which occurred shortly after we began dating. Actually, it wasn’t as much a conversation as it was a (quite successful) attempt on their part to make it clear to me that I would be dating their daughter over their consummately departed bodies. And I instantly made the decision to excommunicate them from my life . . . for three years. For three years I had a wonderful dating relationship with Alex and no relationship with her parents. I refused to associate with them.
So that the reader understands, my girlfriend, Alex, and I had met most unexpectedly about three years prior in nursing school. I was not looking for a relationship, finding myself only a few months past a divorce. Every counselor and piece of literature I could find suggested a one-year time window between divorce and dating, which didn’t really bother me, because I had a slightly longer time window in mind (until my cold death) for being single. Even still, I could not deny the connection I felt with her. This connection was overshadowed by my unwavering mentality with regard to several things:
1. We were nowhere near the clinically recommended time window for dating. If the books and counselors were correct, this would certainly ensure the horrendous and timely death of our seemingly delightful relationship. Strike.
2. I was ten years her senior. If we each had rewound a decade, I would have become a 21-year-old child molester. Mother of God. Strike.
3. I was raised Protestant. She was raised Catholic. I was about sixty percent sure that this interreligious fraternizing would at best abolish us from any hope of heavenly bliss, and at worst, give us a one-way ticket to a certain flaming inferno, complete with autographed pitchforks. Kiss of death.
In all honesty, most of what Alex’s folks communicated to me only served to reinforce what notions already existed within my mind about our relationship. Additionally, on all points of contention, Alex remained calm and steadfast in her hope that we would forever be spiritually connected, dating or not.
Note: So much of my perception has changed, and I look forward to addressing some of my more spiritually-based discoveries in future posts.
Returning to the meditation on fear, I feel myself becoming annoyed. My dense spirit obviously does not understand the point of this exercise. The aforementioned conversation with Alex’s parents left me angry, yes; but fearful? Certainly not. My ego rushes to intervene, politely telling my spirit that we will be meditating on that “fearful” experience over my consummately departed body. But my spirit persists in reproducing that experience as long as it takes to realize just how saturated with fear I am. I am paralyzed by it and powerless against it. Through guided imagery, I revisit that conversation again, and again, and again. And then a most curious thing happens.
I begin to interpret the “harsh” words of that conversation from another place. Momentarily, I am not listening to the words of Alex’s parents as personal insults. I’m looking deeper. What are Alex’s parents really communicating? What commitment lies underneath their words? And I see it: They fear for their daughter. Their love for Alex, their commitment to her well-being and happiness, runs so deeply that any perceived threat to that elicits a reaction which would strike fear, indeed. They are operating from a place of love as it occurs to them in that moment.
Immediately after the meditation, I called Alex’s parents, and after three years of resentment, had a conversation with each of them for the very first time. A few months later, we had a proper introduction in person. Not long after that, I stepped into their home without hesitation, and everyone in her family welcomed me with open arms. That experience continues to remain a memorable one and a remarkable display of the absolute joy, power and freedom which accompanies love and forgiveness. Additionally, that experience translated into a monumental loss of fear in every other area of my life.
It has been said that the major driving force behind every action is either fear or love. Do your life’s decisions revolve around a fear of what may happen, or a love of what’s possible?
Intro pic located at:
Emilian Robert Vicol
Flicker Public Domain Photos
Taken on September 25, 2009
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