Which Wins More Often?
Fear can be all-consuming. As I sat at my desk, trying to come up with a theme for my end-of-the-month blog article (having left this task to the last minute, no less), I realized that I was having trouble thinking due to fear.
Dorian, a Category 4 hurricane, was originally expected to hit land by this Sunday evening and come straight for us (thankfully, now it seems that it won’t touch land, after all). And that brought up all kinds of fear. Fear of losing power (and staying without power for a week or more in the heat and humidity of the Florida Summer, as it happened when Irma hit us a couple of years ago). Fear of our old roof sinking in or being blown away. Fear of bodily harm. Fear of something happening to our loved ones. Fear of the TNR cats around our home being harmed or killed. Fear of the large oak trees in our front yard falling on top of our house or car. Fear of hearing about the aftermath of the hurricane, which always includes deaths and massive destruction. Fear of not finding basic necessities, including drinking water. And so on.
With fear, many physical and emotional sensations follow, such as shortness of breath and a constricted sensation on the chest; cold hands and feet; brain fog… Feeling tired and drained without knowing exactly why… Uneasiness, tension, irritability… Helplessness, hopelessness… And so forth.
Once triggered, fear breaks down into other fears: being in the wrong place at the wrong time; not being or doing enough; not being in control; feeling lost and confused, not knowing the way; making mistakes; losing those we love, including our animal companions; becoming irrelevant and disposable…
Then it expands into more-encompassing fears: the pandemic; going through the next economic crash, which is sure to come; not having enough to survive; the next mass shooting; the current trend of self-serving, narcissistic leaders everywhere in the world; hearing more horrible news about neglect, harm and suffering being inflicted on people, animals and other living beings, the planet; polluted earth, air, water; our self-destructiveness as a race; the end of the world as we know it…
Many years ago, I wrote a poem about the pervading presence of fear:
Fear of being seen, fear of getting involved, fear
Of the consequences, fear of the causes, fear of feeling too much,
Fear of not feeling at all, fear of letting it out, fear of keeping it in,
Fear of getting to know, fear of being in the dark, fear
Of the pain, fear of the joy, fear of life, fear of death, fear of myself,
Fear of you, fear of us together,
Overwhelming, incapacitating, powerful, raw, fear.
©2000 Gisele Marasca
How do we deal with fear? According to Elisabeth Kubler Ross: “There are only two emotions: love and fear. All positive emotions come from love, all negative emotions from fear. From love flows happiness, contentment, peace, and joy. From fear comes anger, hate, anxiety and guilt. It's true that there are only two primary emotions, love and fear. But it's more accurate to say that there is only love or fear, for we cannot feel these two emotions together, at exactly the same time. They're opposites. If we're in fear, we are not in a place of love. When we're in a place of love, we cannot be in a place of fear.”
I believe that one of the most powerful ways to live love and let go of fear is through gratitude. So I wrote the poem below around the same time I wrote Fear:
Thank you for the uncertainty
which makes me search for answers;
For the ignorance
which compels me to learn;
Thank you for the struggles
which make me grow;
For the sorrow which gives me depth;
Thank you for the doubts and indecisions
which cause me to think, choose and take action;
For the courage which drives me to take risks;
Thank you for glimpses of beauty
when ugliness surrounds me;
For light in the darkness;
For air, for earth, for water;
For trust, for beliefs, for faith;
For the friends I can be myself with;
For everything corny, mushy and over the top;
For love! Thank you for the love in me
and for the love around me;
Thank you for first times and second chances;
Thank you for fleeting moments and long pauses;
Thank you for smiles and laughs and music;
For hopes and dreams,
Thank you for me.
©2000 Gisele Marasca
As I reminded myself of how to balance fear with love, I started listing many of the things I have to be grateful for (including the fact that Dorian isn’t going to touch land anymore, and that I live in a safe and sturdy home inland). I also reminded myself of all the help and support we had from friends and family after Hurricane Irma, such as ice bags, a loaned generator for the fridge and a couple of fans, invitations to work and have meals at their homes, etc (we were also invited by several people to stay over, but we had to stay home to care for our 12 pets and rescues). And life started coming into perspective again…
FINAL THOUGHT: Every single moment of our lives, we are given the choice between love and fear. Which one are we choosing most often?
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 08/31/2019
Photo by M.T ElGassier on Unsplash
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