Tuesday, January 19, 2016

365 True Things: 296/Fear

I am thinking about fear today, and about the imperative that it NOT BE FED.

When I think about fear, the imagery of hungry ghosts comes to mind
I've written about fear in the past. I am not afraid of much (I like to tell myself), but every so often a feeling of dread descends (a mild feeling: you'd hardly notice it—I tell myself—but lest it become paralyzing, it NEED NOT TO BE FED).

At the moment, I'm getting set to boot work-work out of my life (again! the idea is, for good!), which means I'll be at my own devices, doing "my own thing"—whatever that is.

I think a large part of it is going to be play. Just play. Have fun with my talents, my interests, my curiosity, my imperfection, my courage. Take risks! Fool around with words, with colored pencils, with beautiful papers and X-acto knives, with my camera (and, um, yeah, get my printer working again—a little fear there, of technology having the upper hand). Get out on my bicycle, on my motorcycle. Go sit at the beach and watch waves roll in, a notebook in hand. There is absolutely nothing frightening about any of that. (Okay, the motorcycle maybe.)

I've collected a few quotes today that touch on fear, and its invidiousness. I intend to keep pondering their import.
“I must say a word about fear. It is life's only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unnerving ease. It begins in your mind, always ... so you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don't, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.”
― Yann Martel, Life of Pi
"Your fear must be kept in its place. (True emergencies only, please.) Your fear must not be allowed to make decisions about creativity, passion, inspiration, dreams. Your fear doesn't understand these things, and so it makes the most boring possible decisions about them. Your fear mistakes creativity and inspiration for saber-toothed tigers and wolf packs. They aren't. Creativity and inspiration are the vehicles that will transport you to the person you most need to become."
Elizabeth Gilbert 
"Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain." ― Paul Atreides (Muad’Dib) [Frank Herbert, Dune]
And then this quote, which is more about a variant of fear: discomfort? uncertainty? Which, if we are to be honestly and fully alive, must be embraced. Life shouldn't be all about comfort. It is uncertain. We don't always have control. But the lack of control can reveal interesting, important, provocative things. About us. About our potential. About our world.
“If I’m going to do something that could be provocative or artistically relevant, I have to be prepared to put myself in a place where I feel unsafe, not completely in control. I have no fear of failure whatsoever, because often out of that uncertainty something is salvaged, something that is worthwhile comes about. There is no progress without failure, and each failure is a lesson learned. Unnecessary failures are the ones where an artist tries to second guess an audience’s taste, and little comes out of that situation except a kind of inward humiliation.”
The more I read about (or by) David Bowie, the more I admire that man.


  1. I love that Yann Martel quote, especially this: "It begins in your mind." I've read it three times, and I'm going to write it out. Thanks, Anne. I needed this today.

  2. so beautifully put together anne -