Fear and paranoia : fear of life and self preservation
I recognize this dichotomy- this liberating or imprisoning nuance of fear- in many aspects of my life now: fear of potential harm, potential loss, or potential sorrow, all of which are limiting to life, as opposed to honest-to-goodness self-preservation fear, which is life affirming.
I had come to accept that life is not complete without some fear, and that trying to avoid what I feared was impossible without concomitantly building up walls which would bury me, because to avoid fear was to avoid life. I had to learn to discern between true response to a true situation, and false response to an imagined one.
I can say these things with great humility, for I was a born and bred, hopeless neurotic- a living authority on the crippling effect of the mind. I once had a dream in which it was shown to me that there was an incurable, pathological coward within me, discoloring everything I did, and everything I thought, and I awoke knowing that I could not get rid of him, for he was a part of me. I could only take into consideration the fact that his voice was a part of the chorus of voices motivating either my fulfillment or abandonment of life, and I had to make sure that he didn’t win, because to him even the clerk at the convenience store was a grizzly, and the world was a terrifying, dark woods within which he sat cowering while the rest of me wanted to sing out and dance.
The first book I ever thought of writing was solely about fear, though luckily the coward was too afraid to write it, and so the rest of me won the pen. And soon I’ll take another hill and become a ballerina.
And yet it had taken me many bewildering years of painful confusion and struggle to finally understand and overcome the useless fears that had been driven into my innocent life from day one. The endless, justified, irrational, irrevocable, cultural fears: fear of being lost in the world, of being different, of believing in nothing but yourself, of having no job (let alone a career), of having little or no money, no home, of living illegally wherever you chose to squat. Fear of existing in squalor amongst the pimps, and prostitutes, the heroin addicts, thieves, drunks, mutants and beggars, fear of being dirty, of neither caring for, nor needing anything created by mankind, fear of owning nothing, of thinking your own thoughts, of dreaming your own dreams, of being idle, of being nobody. Fear of death, fear of life, fear of disappointing your friends and family, of being disowned or of disowning, of offending another irreparably. Fear of being absolutely alone, fear of standing your own ground while the cyclone of madness spins relentlessly about you, fear of believing in and following your own reality, fear of being wrong, of never finding truth. Fear of the wildlands, of snakes, of cold and rain, of darkness and discomfort, of wiping your ass with your own hand, of where you’d lay your head that night, of what you’d eat tomorrow, of where you’d wash, and what you’d do when you woke in the sun with nothing to do but sit in the sun. Fear, fear, fear, and more fear, all ensconcing, all pervasive, encumbering, deceiving, disfiguring fear. All of it.
Many people talked as if they understood life and knew how to properly live it, but once you sat down and got inside of them, once they opened up the can of worms contained within and came forth with candor to expose themselves truly, it was always the same thing- uncertainty, hesitation, disquiet, boredom, anger, worry, envy, disease, and panic. There it was, in all and everyone, lying buried just beneath the shining veneer of their own private lie, which itself was haplessly buried deep inside the greater lie- the lie into which they were born and because they had no imagination, no intent, and no energy to extricate themselves, it was the same lie into which they would eventually grow sick, and old, and die.
They would die in fear when they could instead have lived in faith. In faith- not in a dogmatic, religious form- but faith in nothing knowable- faith for faith’s sake, because it was the only way out of fear and death and sorrow.
But they had no faith; no faith in themselves, in God, in Creation, in Destruction, in death, or in Life. No faith, only fear. As simple and difficult as that.
(excerpted from In and Of: memoirs of a mystic journey, by Jack Haas)
Books by Jack Haas: Autobiography, Memoir, Spirituality, Mysticism, Comparative Religion, Poetry, Art, Photography.