We never know how deep a fear is until you grope in the dark and touch the door only to find you forgot how to turn the door knob. It is a weird analogy but sometimes due to certain fears in our lives we forget how it used to be to live…well…without fear.
The first thoughts that may come to mind when think of fear is probably scary movies, walking in the dark, and for others the memes on social media about facing our fears. But fear isn’t some far away concept in the internet space and it is not as small as being startled when a mouse walks past you. Fear can be bigger and more menacing than we imagine it to be and can macro-manage our lives in ways that we did not think it does.
It is easy to think that what we are afraid of is manageable and we press pause on things we desire to do. We say to the unsung song, ‘let me first get stable and I will come for you’ we say to the business we have planned in our minds, ‘when I get more money I will come for you’ not realizing that dreams are like babies, so delicate and frail. Sometimes the heaviness of the responsibility our dreams carries can weigh us down and fear sets in. And when the mind lets fear in we reason that it was not meant to be and we ignore the cries our dreams make from years of neglect due to fear. We refuse to step out the door because life is too cruel and harsh and we are oh so frail.
I am learning that fear does not come knocking on the doors of our lives saying, “Hey, I am fear and I am ready to paralyze your dreams. Show me where they are so that I can make them wither and die!” Then we kindly show the guest the room to our dreams and watch fear do its work. Fear instead, creeps in. There is no formal announcement of its presence and one day we wake up and wonder why we do not have the lives we envisioned for ourselves. Your language becomes filled with, ‘I used to like doing this’ and when we are asked what happened we really cannot explain. Fear comes stealthily wearing many hats and ensembles to confuse the mind. One time its rational and the next is something else.
Fear thrives in the dark. I guess that is why the analogy ‘skeletons in the closet’ elicits fear. It thrives in moving in our lives unrecognized. In one of my favourite animations called ‘Rise of the guardians’ there is a character called Fear – the Boogie Man and he has the unique ability of knowing what peoples deepest fears are. The fears the characters in the animation had were based on their experiences and it made one of them – Jack Frost, my alter ego (just kidding) not believe in who he was meant to be. The characters fears were unconscious and it is what seemed right and normal to do at the time.
We never know how deep our fear is until the life of our dreams is on the line – that make or break moment when your dreams have to live or die or we are challenged to confront the fear. When the opportunity to bring life to your passion comes and you are frozen in the place of indecision, analysis or dismissing the opportunity as not ‘big enough’ and you are ‘waiting’ for something better or simply handing over the opportunity to someone else who we think is better than us or worse still walking away as if it did not matter.
In a weird way one can say fear is the place where dreams go to die.
I also see human beings as a crazy species. Ones who have something gnawing at them when they are not pursuing who they are meant to be. A sense of unease and restless. Remember how I said dreams are like babies? It seems to me like they have a life force of their own and they cry out to be heard, to be lived, to find their voice and own expression through us. They do not care for our fears and through allowing them to have life we learn to take steps from the place of fear into the place of the unknown. In the end we stop asking “what is the worst that can happen?” and we truly look forward to the immeasurable reward of giving our dreams their voice back after being muffled by fear for so long. Maybe it is just me? Okay.
For believers the pull is much stronger because the One who made you cannot let you remain in the place of fear. He cannot let you have peace with life as it is or settle where you are at because you are afraid to go at your dreams.
We have been familiar with that fear, we have tasted that fear, we know how much it chills our bones at the mere thought of it. We know the number of skeletons in that closet and if you have been there long enough we have named them. It can be comfortable to be where we know so well but we also need to know that skeletons can only tell the tale of death and fear. They know not life, the freshness of the morning breeze or the skip of a little girls steps on a pavement, or the cackling of a child. If we truly desire life as it is meant to be lived (which is different for all of us) then we need to consciously look at what is holding us back. What have we called it? Is it “I am not ready,” “I am not good enough,” “I can never be as____________as __________,” “It is too much,” or “It doesn’t matter.”Then we can honestly answer the question, “are we ready to live beyond the skeletons?”
It doesn’t have to be monstrously big to be a valid dream. It could be for the first time having the courage to finally seek help in a place where we have been stuck for so long and ashamed to admit it, or taking up that night class to sharpen our skill, or saying ‘I do’ to the one you love, or saying ‘no’ to a toxic relationship, saying ‘goodbye’ to your child when they leave (to go to school, to marry, to live alone, to another country) on and on the list can go. The point is that it has been the point of limitation for you and you know it has.
Sure it will be awkward, and weird, and creepy, and unusual, and scary, and so unlike ourselves (that however is debatable since we are constantly changing as human beings) but isn’t everything that we do for the first time?