19 November

People Who Deal With Fear

by Jon Katz

   Portrait, Maria, in the Studio Barn

    Halfway through a short story. Waiting to edit a children’s book. Waiting to begin the next novel, a sequel to “Rose In A Storm.”

   Been thinking about fear, and how people deal with it. There has been a tremendous amount of fear in the air the past year or so. It was worse, last year, I think, but as all sorts of new realities set in, it is still a burden for many people, who seek a sense of the world around them, and long for security. Everywhere, there is change, and while most people assume things will get better, many are still nervous about it. I don’t know of course, Recession and prosperity seem to take turns in our culture, one following the other. Lots of people are out of work, lots fear for their jobs.
   I have been wrestling with fear in recent years – a lot of it was buried inside of me. I am still working on it, and perhaps will be for the rest of my life. But it is much better, so much better than before. I am learning to accept it, live with it, move around and past it. It is, really, just a feeling. It is, in fact, a space to cross, a toll on the bridge.
  What has helped me?
  First and foremost, therapy, a dynamic social worker who is empathetic, blunt and clear.
  Second, more reliance. I gave up pills, aids, tools, potions, Aunt Harriett’s bedtime remedies, the latest $29.95 program on the Internet, the latest miracle self-help book, the latest sensitive Oprah expert. I gave up hiding in people, soothing myself, altered my expectations, and began the task of sorting out fear from reality. All complex and time consuming stuff. I was gentler with me, and more honest about myself.  It is hard work. It is possible
  I think you have to want to change. And work at it. We will all – all of us – face defeats and disappointments, sometimes things that are even worse. I don’t measure progress in terms of how much fear I feel, but how I deal with it.
  A woman e-mailed me this morning that she was tired of worrying about her job and hating her boss and fearing for her future. She was secretly setting up a fabric business, and planned to take her life’s savings, quit and start her own business. I am hearing that kind of story more and more.
  Good for you, Katie. I will be rooting for you. You took fear and kicked it around.

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