For me, the images of the storm outside this week – those awful and very beautiful swirls – mirrored the images of the storm inside of us. This was a manifestation of fear come alive, it’s birth and purpose, it’s living form, the swirling giant, multi-colored and uncontrollable mass of power and terror, roaring towards us to obliterate our lives and belongings. They see it coming days and even weeks away and when they do, we see it coming every minute of every day countless times. Hard to imagine a more graphic system of fear than that, far beyond Mary Shelley’s biological imagination. Imagine if Victor Frankenstein had Storm Center on a screen in his lab, he would have thrown himself off of the tower long before his creation stirred.
From my perspective, these images were mirrors as well as manifestation. Our lives are a series of storms swirling around us, frightening us, challenging us to ground ourselves and overcome our fear – medicine, politics, the law, climate change, the media, the institutions that bring us storms, legions of politicians, doctors, “activists,” bureaucrats, regulators and overseers, legislators, scientists, professional warners, armies of alarm-sounders. All speaking as our friends and protectors. So why, in the face of all this warning and fear and concern for our safety and well-being, do we feel so uneasy, so frightened so unsafe?
I’ve been nose-to-nose with fear for decades and I have along and close relationship with it. I have learned that the real storms, the real disturbances are almost always internal, inside of me, not out there. Many physicists believe that the storms out there are manifestations of our own anger and disconnection, our own restless energy. I don’t know about that. Sounds a bit like blaming the victim to me. Once in awhile, as in this past week, a real storm comes along and I look up at it, watch my interactive maps, and I see myself in the mirror, I see the inside of me, a graphic portrait of the storms inside of me, the real things to fear.
Our world sometimes seems to be constructed around a series of storms, systems of fear, swirling and raging around us, an overwhelming system than can envelop us and choke our spirits.
What am I learning? What stymies and confuses fear, diverts and distracts it, shrinks and diminishes it?
Appreciation. I give thanks a dozen times a day for the things I appreciate rather than the things I fear. Maria, my farm, my friends, my work, my photos, the dogs, donkeys, my blog, my chance to be what I always wanted to be, a writer.
Authenticity. Who am I? Am I strong? Determined? Smart? Or am I vulnerable, weak, distracted and frightened?
Awareness. We are porous beings, especially those of us who choose to do work that comes from inside of us. We can not keep the storms a way, or wall ourselves off from their awful effects. All we can do is understand ourselves, understand that what comes in, comes out, and often at 3 in the morning.
Choice. We can control some things and not others, but we always have choices, no one can warn us away from our choices or medicate us from them. In the dark of night, when my storm tracks right through the window and into my soul, I have choices to make. What do I believe? Who am I really? How do I wish to spend my life?
Determination: Fear has stalked me for many years, and chased me through the dark, and stolen my dreams, but it has not gotten me yet, and will not get me in my remaining time. In the midst of my worst fear, I found love, direction, some small wisdom, and a sparkle full of creative sparks. Fear is a space to cross, a geography. I live my life within the swirl, every day. It can only frighten me, it cannot stop me. It is not real. It is a symptom, a disorder, a wart on the soul.
I don’t fear the storms outside, I can’t do anything about them. I fear and wonder at the storm within, and so I have my own exclusive inter-active map, red for panic, blue for concern, yellow for becoming alert to my own life and emotions. There is no storm so great as to wash away a meaningful life.