I just got an email from a friend who was talking about fear; fear of what’s to come, fear of what is past, fear of the unknown, fear. Funny enough, I can relate to that, in this particular season of life. I mean, throughout my existence I have been someone who prides myself in not being fearful. I’ve often walked in places “they” told me not to walk, done things “they” said I shouldn’t do, and hung out with people “they” said would kill me…whoever “they” may be. And it was fear that led “they” to speak that way, and yet their projections of that fear did not stick to me. I wouldn’t even say it bounced off, because I am not altogether sure it ever even reached me.
But now, in this phase of life, I’m dealing with elements that are unknown to me. You see, I know guns, knives, bullets, gang territories, drugs, broken bottles, street fights, murderers, rapists, and those “they” say are “dangerous”; those I should allegedly fear. I have kept them close. I never feared any of that because I never questioned whether or not I should be in the places I was, with the people I was with, and I knew that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Now I’m in a season of the unknown and, whether I like to admit it or not, it is scary. This is new to me. And it’s hard not to let fear creep up, in the many ways and forms it tries to reveal its ugly head. So, I could relate to my friend’s email, and I found myself responding to it without having to think much about it. It might have only made sense to me.
I remembered being a kid and thinking about monsters; vampires, werewolves, zombies, witches, goblins, ghouls, ghosts, and the lot. I had an extremely active imagination and could therefore create these creatures in my mind, far more menacing than anything you have ever seen on a movie or in a picture book. Maybe I would be walking through my neighborhood, in the dark, all by myself, with only my thoughts to entertain me, and one of the usual suspects of the previously mentioned lineup would make an appearance. Adrenaline would suddenly course through my veins. I would walk faster, look nervously from side to side, and then behind me, picking up the pace another notch. I would feel silly for being scared of those imaginary creatures, but at the same time my mind made them so very real, and there was no way to escape them. The faster I walked, the bigger they became. If I dared to jog, or even worse run, they would get right on my tail, unrelenting in their chase.
Some nights I could feel them breathing on my neck.
And then, sometimes, something would kick in and I would snap out of it, remembering I had a secret weapon. My weapon? To pretend that I was one of them. In my mind, I transformed into a monster, because if the other monsters saw me as a fellow monster they would accept me, and not try to scare me, and maybe, just maybe if I was bad enough, they might even be scared of me. I would be the fearless leader of the monsters, just like Max who tamed the Wild Things. I would slow my pace back down to a stroll, begin to walk with a strut, contort my face, snarl my lips, gnash my teeth, and growl, if only in my mind. The fear would vanish as quickly as it had gripped me. The monsters, realizing they had messed with the wrong monster, retreated to the darkness of the night. And I fearlessly walked home in peace.
As time ticks on, life gets more complex, as do the fears that come with it; if only I was merely facing Dracula right now. And we try all sorts of ways to deal with the fears that surface. But I guess the most important thing is to continue to be aware of it; that we don’t let it get to that point where it grips us, and begins to paralyze us. Because the thing about fear is, it only has as much power over us as we allow it to have. The more we try to run from it, the bigger it gets. But when we stand our ground, grit our teeth and snarl back at it, well, it will see the monster within us, and it will most definitely back down. And we will be able to fearlessly walk on, in peace.