You know, I’m torn between the perception of fear in psychological terms as damaging and harmful, in Darwinian terms as healthful and helpful – indeed essential for our survival, and in religious terms as a ‘passion’ – a function of Death at work in us (which a Darwinist must deny). I am fascinated by all of these conceptions. And more. I find I must think of fear not merely in terms of what it does to us or where it comes from, but as an adventurous realm in which to travel, a place to let my storytelling mind lie down and rest. On any given night, I am journeying through fear and discovering it as a world, and telling a bit of it.
“A major milepost has been passed when you mature enough to acknowledge what drives you, and you take the wheel and steer it.” – Andrew Stanton: The Clues to a Great Story
For me, this nightly writing thing is as much about clarification of my identity, “who I am?”, as anything. And my vocation – how I will live (as a builder, a shaper, a thinker)? And my relation to other people – what is it based on (art, laughter, curiosity, adventure, striving, desire)? And about defining the world in relation to myself – is it dominant, does it own me, does it dictate – or do I dominate it (both – I let it affect me, but not own me)? Does it write my script, or do I write it’s script? Etc.
For me, I took my fear, and I turned on it, and scoured it with my gaze, and turned it outward and told it out loud. I made the dark my home, and I lived in my fear (which is the last thing it intends for you to do – it wants you to run, not unroll your sleeping bag and start building a tree house the next day). And that has been making me the master of my fears ever since. It’s not all that drives me. I’m driven by love. I’m driven by hope, and history, and curiosity, and passion, and travel and adventure, and emotional connections with other people, and self-discovery. But fear is powerful and the great secret of it is that we’re more powerful than fear.
We are meant to *flinch* when we enter the ring with it as an opponent, but fear never expects us to run toward it, to run so hard that we run straight through and dwell in it, and hold onto it, and pull it back into ourselves, and refuse to let it go – it’s like that scene in The Matrix where Neo defeats Agent Smith. Fear never expects that we are fully human in that way. It relies only on our brokenness. I am broken, and I am strong, and I am man, and I am more powerful than fear. I intend to own it, to be its master not it’s slave, but certainly not to discard it casually or indifferently. Or, as my friend Harper would say, “you made that thing your bitch!” As always Harper, you put it better than I could.