Browsing the archives for the John Wayne tag

Fear and Courage

Life as it is, Spiritual Journey

I have a confession to make. I am not only an expert at making mistakes, I am also an expert on fear. Many of my friends describe me as being courageous, which describes my decisions and my choices, but usually my over-riding feeling at such times is fear.

Anyone who has worked with me for very long has heard me talk about fear. I may refer to the acronym of F.E.A.R. as False Evidence Appearing Real. In fact, if you listen to conversations between myself and my closest friends, one of the first things we we do is ask and listen to just what the other person fears, and then ask what evidence they have that this feared outcome will occur. Then we plan how to face it.

Long Have I Watched the Streets of Galveston

Many years ago, I was not as aware of fear, because I used to flee from it. I made safe choices, or at least the least frightening ones. I did some occasionally daring deeds and had some successes – but that was because I feared what might happen if I didn’t dare more than what might happen if I did. Some might say it motivated me, but the truth is that it drove me. And just like a hot air balloonist hardly feels any wind, I never felt any fear, for it was carrying me where it went. Have you ever rode your bike on a clear spring day feeling no wind, until you turned back and rode against a headwind? Fear didn’t motivate me, it drove me.

Those safe and fear-driven choices had their own consequences. My creativity all but vanished, for to create anything is to risk it being ridiculed. My relationships suffered, for I was careful in what I said and shared and did not stand up for much of anything. Even playing suffered, for while I had many hobbies to occupy me, I was too inhibited to risk reaching for joy.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.
— Ambrose Redmoon

In time it was those relationships that got me to face fear. The way I was living was not producing the results I wanted so I started changing. I started doing it for them, then I started doing it for my own relationship with myself.

It’s frightening to go places where we have never been before. As a result, reaching for more joy than ever before or becoming a parent or dealing with a sudden emergency all cause fear. And it’s worse if you are intelligent and creative, because you have the mind capable of imagining a million little disasters and their outcomes.

After a while, I found that when i felt sudden fear, it often meant I should go back to that thought or situation and poke it with a stick and face it. I still feel it – that choking sensation of fear – but it doesn’t drive me any more. I get to choose where I want to go in life.

For years, this was written in my office and in my home:

I must not fear.
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.
— Dune, Frank Herbert

I am a single father of two teens so trust me, I still know and experience fear on an intimate and real basis. Even now I am afraid as I write this how I might appear egotistical or sanctimonious, and still have all of it terribly wrong. Or worse yet, what if nobody reads this and I am ignored?

I’m still going to post this when I am done. The truth is that in facing fear, I feel it more – this is true is writing for publication, public speaking, being a parent, reaching for unknown joy or anything else worth doing. Fear may be a wall too high to climb and too wide to go around – but it is only tissue paper thin. I just have to step through it.

Courage is being scared to death— and saddling up anyway.
— John Wayne

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