Every topic I started to write about tonight led to a dead end. That’s good. They were about scary things or self-recriminations. Really, though, how can I say they were about scary things? I don’t believe that.
“Scary” is a reaction applied in reverse as a defense. Lots of things are “scary” before we’re willing to face them and experience them. Almost always, the encounter ends up being positive instead. Because life is good. Regardless. As the latest popular saying goes, “The universe doesn’t do things to us, it does them for us.”
The unknown is a challenge. Once, when I was young and applied for temp work, I told the agency I was willing to do anything clerical or administrative. “But please don’t put me on a switchboard,” I emphasized. That must have made an impression; my next assignment was as a receptionist and switchboard operator for a large retail distribution warehouse. Since the agency apparently had confidence in me, I decided to have confidence in myself. I spent every spare minute of my first morning memorizing faces, names, and numbers … and practicing which buttons to push when. Not surprisingly, this turned out to be my favorite and most successful assignment till then and I was asked back repeatedly by the company.
“Scary” could be bugs for some people.
(This is a photo of a cricket.)
Once I lived in a small, very old downtown apartment where roaches were hard to control. But that is just what I was trying to do one night when a friend stopped by to visit. He asked if he could help … because, he said, that was the exact fear he was working on at the time. Being of the hippie type and generation, he one-at-a-time lovingly scooped up the half-dozen erstwhile residents and took each one to an outside garden. Because he was afraid to.
It’s all a matter of perspective. Back when AIDS was a quick death sentence, I went to a literary event of some kind in a Little Rock bookstore. Poets read their work aloud. One’s was about the day he was diagnosed with AIDS. When he learned he had it and was told how it operated, he left the clinic and wandered the streets, marveling in an almost ecstasy of wonder: “Not immune. Not immune. I’m not immune to anything!”
Approach and Avoidance
With fear, as with pain, there are two main techniques that can be effective—[this is my own experience speaking]—either complete focus on that thing or complete focus on something else. I’m lucky. I can usually do either with poetry. Today, Ethan and I had to face something intimidating and we both fell into behaviors we didn’t like. So we called a halt, reviewed things, and worked them out. During my halt, I delved:
Why am I such a drain?
Why do I find fault
then clam up like a vault?
Why do I complain?
Why do I stew,
then blow my top at you?
I feel threatened and powerless.
It’s some kind of cowardice.
Conclusion? Being afraid is about feeling vulnerable and deficient. And self-protection plays out as attack. Or it can. It helps to be in a partnership that calls a timely halt. Coincidentally, that is the very thing this blog is calling for, so I will end. May all your scares lead to positive outcomes.
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Photo Credits: All photos are by morguefile.com artists.
No Outlet by jdurham – Hazy Street by krosseel – Cricket by rocker123