Today has been a good day. As is true most Wednesdays I am bone tired from the steady, heavy work at the Berkeley Food Pantry. As I reflect back on the day, I do so with gratitude for the gift of insight that I get from writing. In my current search for clarity in my life, I am finding that the more I write out various thoughts and ideas and plans, the clearer my understanding of my current situation and of what I want to be doing with my life. I am hoping that in similar fashion I’ll also get clearer about what my next steps forward need to be in securing meaningful work and/or generating income using my skills and creativity. For today, I was simply grateful to get to the bottom of some rather troublesome questions I’d been asking myself in terms of what’s holding me back in some key areas. When I started writing, the answers came rolling out. Understanding what some of my mental blocks and self-imposed obstacles are is of course only half the battle. Tackling these impediments head on is essential.
One of the greatest difficulties in overcoming these obstacles is fear (or perhaps fear itself is an obstacle to moving forward…) As I talk with people about discovering and pursuing their life purpose, fear in one form or another is the most significant hindrance to us doing as Thoreau suggested: going confidently in the direction of our dreams and living the lives we’ve imagined for ourselves. Fear of failure, success, rejection; feeling incompetent, feeling like a fraud, fear of living small and helpless, fear of being too big and powerful…some of us are overwhelmed by the depth and breadth of our fears. I once heard someone say that F.E.A.R. stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. So much of what frightens us from taking action is exactly that–something that is essentially untrue but looks so convincingly real that we accept that it must be so. When we begin to closely examine those things that scare us, that cause us to wake in a panic in the middle of the night, or that keep us frozen in place when we want to move forward, we begin to see the truth of F.E.A.R; that what we’re really frightened of is overblown and grossly exaggerated.
Like many people I have my share of fears. They range from vague unease to heart-thumping, fist clenching, head spinning, worst-case-scenario panic. At those times nothing short of gratitude and the grace and peace of God coming over me keeps me from having a total meltdown. My current reality as an unemployed person carries with it significant uncertainty and where there’s uncertainty fear is usually not too far away. I am grateful that for the most part when those fears arise I can find the presence of mind to remember the things in my life for which I am grateful and draw on a measure of faith that things will work out and I will prevail. I’ve had moments when I’ve doubted the very things that I’m writing here and fear has gotten the better of me. I fall on my knees, bury my face in my crying towel on the floor and wail, letting the feeling of utter hopelessness overtake me. Then I get up, dry my eyes, blow my nose, calm my breath, pull myself together and get on with the business of sorting out my life. And often after a little while that irrational, wonderful sense of calm once again descends on me and I feel renewed energy to take some sort of purposeful action toward solving my challenges. I still have a ways to go to resolve my current life issues, but doing so is a lot easier when I am unencumbered by fear.
Today has indeed been a good day. May I find the strength to continue moving beyond the fear that hinders me and move closer to the life I’ve imagined. So may we all!
© M. T. Chamblee, 2012