I read somewhere (forget where) that my personality type has an insatiable hunger for knowledge and thrives on making connections between unrelated things.
So when thinking about writing about the subject of fear, I had three distinctive yet seemingly unrelated flashes come to mind.
I share them with you now:
All the wonderful things to be afraid of. Michael Bernard Loggins, a developmentally disabled man wrote Fears of Your Life and Fears of Your Life: A Whole Brand New One in which he lists all the things he fears, which was later acted aloud on This American Life. It made me think of all the things I am afraid of, but not deathly afraid of—you know, just the low-grade, everyday hushed fears that are typical background noise of everyday life. Simple, yet so relatable.
How fear drives art. My new stuck-in-a-rut bible: Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils of Art Making by David Bayles and Ted Orland. So full of beautiful and helpful thoughts on the creative process centered on how fears of self and others, informs and propels the process, or conversely, stops it dead in its tracks (i.e. quitting). The process, by their definition, actually requires resistance to fear. An assuring thought for those who struggle at times to make and create.
Here are a few of my favorite excerpts:
“To the artist, all problems of art appear uniquely personal. Well, that’s understandable enough, given that not many other activities routinely call one’s basic self-worth into question.”
“That is a species of fear–the fear that your fate is in your own hands, but that your hands are weak.”
“Making the work you want to make means finding nourishment in the work itself.”
The Spidey Sense. My best friend calls it that. It’s a deep knowing intuition on the borderline of psychic. Fear is an element to this sixth sense, it usually gives you a high voltage alert that something is just not right: perk up and pay attention. The spidey sense is not driven only by fear, I am sure there are some other primal/ mystic ingredients, but I don’t really know what they are. Something to be curious about surely. To break-in the sixth sense, one must adhere to the wisdom it delivers so that each time it reinforces our own ability to perceive and act based on an inner truth. When you don’t listen, don’t act, ignore what you know to be the truth – the sense gets flaccid. Go ask Clarissa Pinkola Estes about it.
So yes, maybe these three thought waves are unrelated. But really, it doesn’t matter. Because when it comes down to it, fear is in everything we do in one form or another. Even the motto ‘No Fear’, which at face value seems like a potent proclamation of the fearless, is actually completely false. It shows that we believe that resisting fear is possible and preferable, when in fact there’s no ‘No Fear’.
And truly, we should all thank our lucky stars. Because within fear, lies that insatiable hunger for knowledge and growth.
So, I’m curious, what do you love about fear? What are some of the wonderful things that you’re afraid of? How do you put fear in the backseat, in order to create? How do you sharpen your own spidey sense?
Photo by Sean McGrath