It has occurred to me, in my long encounter with fear, that fear is one of the few emotions in which most people have complete faith. Many people are cynical about love, have given up on hope in their own lives, turn away from conventional faith or a spiritual life. But they do have an almost unshakeable faith in fear. The fear of the news. Of doctor’s alarms. Of our political system. People take pills out of fear, deny death out of fear, vote out of fear, are afraid for their children, their food, their money and security.
I am losing faith in fear. I believe in the color of the Daffodil. Fear is not deserving of faith. It is often wrong, misplaced, misdirected. In my life, I have usually been afraid of the wrong things. Fear does not solve problems, it creates them. It is not a warning, but a symptom. It is not reality, but an emotional geography, a space to cross. I imagine there was a time when human beings needed to be afraid all of the time, and perhaps that is why so many of us are wired in that way. And why so many people profit out of our fear, from weather broadcasters to corporate news organizations to pharmaceutical companies.
Fear is losing credibility for me. My friend and spiritual counselor Mary Muncil, broke through a wall of mine that pills, analysts and therapists could not penetrate. She challenged me to lose faith in fear, and instead, put faith in me, in love, in hope and in my ability to shape my life and my future. In the people I love, the words I write, the photos I take.
Fear breeds struggle stories. Perpetual mourning. Self-pity. I don’t believe fear is invincible any more. It is toxic and smelly. It is the mother of anger and resentment, of distrust and worry. I am losing faith in fear, instead choosing life, the opposite of fear. I am beginning to worship life, which is deserving of faith.