Sometimes, I think life is a race between faith and fear. I need to develop enough faith before my fears swamp me. And those fears can be about anything: money, health, what somebody thinks about me (or what I think they think about me), the End of the Friggin’ World. Doesn’t matter. Fear is a fungible commodity, uniform throughout. My brain doesn’t know the difference between fear of the bear (bearanoia) and fear that somebody’s out to steal my password (paranoia). The same neurotransmitters cascade in my brain in either case. My heartrate goes up, my capacity to think goes down. It’s the same flight or fight reaction because my brain don’t know the difference between a bear and a bank account balance.
What I notice about fear is that it obeys certain laws. Remember in high school physics when they taught us about the Law of Conservation of Energy? Ms. Rhombus told us the amount of energy in any closed system remains constant. That energy doesn’t ever really go away. It can only change form.
I think that law applies to fear, too. After all, anxiety is a kind of energy. In my life, the net amount of fear remains constant. It’s only the sources from which it seems to emanate that change. I worry about money. Until I get a lump on my gum and then I really worry about that. Money? Hey, no problem. Take all you want, Doc. Just get rid of this thing. Then the cyst gets removed, and I go back to worrying about money again, which is higher up on the scale of Just’s Hierarchy of Terrors.
Most of us try to eliminate the source of fear in our environment, neglecting the fact that the fear really doesn’t come from the outside. It comes from inside. Fear is my reaction to things I can’t control. Worry is trying to control the uncontrollable. Because as soon as I have enough money, my worry shifts to something else. My fears may be high class for a while, like fretting over the neighbors letting their garbage loose on my land. Until something more serious arises, like graying nose hair. But the net amount of fear remains constant. It just shifts form.
It’s the source of fear that I need to address. Because by focusing on fear, I’m focused on an external. The fear just shifts to some other object in my environment. My real focus needs to be on faith, which is the opposite of fear. Now, if you don’t like the ‘faith’ word because it’s too churchy, try trust instead. You don’t need to believe in God to trust. A wise old woman once told me: Trust your process. You are being led. There are no accidents. That changed my seeing. Trust the path. To trust the path, all I need to do is walk it. To allow myself to be led. To believe that there are no accidents in this life. That the outcome always works out to my benefit in the end, if I let it.
There’s a race between fear and faith in my mind. Yet I choose which horse wins. If I let my fears take the lead, I may take all kinds of actions, and make all sorts of decisions that lead to bad outcomes. No choice based on fear –besides running away from the bear – really has a good result in the end. A fearful choice may protect me short term, but it leads to my ultimate vulnerability.
The roots of fear are in its source, and that source is just a bad thought. Maybe I picked it up when I was 6 and it just kept growing from there: the thought that I’m not enough; that I’m alone; that there’s no one to help me in this dangerous world. That there’s something wrong. Fear usually comes from the idea of insufficiency. It’s the fear of not enough. Ultimately, I suppose, it’s the fear of death dressed up as something else.
Yeah, I’ll die. But the tragedy isn’t that I’ll die one day. It’s that I never lived in the meantime, because I was too afraid.
© 2022 by Michael C. Just
Mike’s novel, The Dirt: The Journey of a Mystic Cowboy, is available in softcover or eBook formats through Amazon.
You can purchase the book through this website. Or go straight to amazon at https://www.amazon.com/s?k=the+dirt+journey+of+a+mystic+cowboy&crid=1S40Q4BXSUWJ6&sprefix=the+dirt%3A+journey+of+a+m%2Caps%2C180&ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_23
Mike’s other titles, including The Crippy, The Mind Altar, and Canyon Calls, are available through Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002
Two of his short stories have recently been published online. The Obligate Carnivore has been published by the Scarlet Leaf Review @ Category: MICHAEL JUST – SCARLET LEAF REVIEW
I See You, Too has been published by the 96th of October @ I See You, Too – 96th of October