Diane responded to one of my Facebook posts, one of my Summer of Surrender posts which talked about feeling the fear and doing it anyway. She said, “It’s like telling someone with a panic attack to go into the fear. It works, but it’s scary as hell.” She is so right. There is brilliance and freedom in that.
What I realized is that facing fear is like facing death. There’s a belief that I will succumb forever. I will cease to exist. The fear will overtake me like a roaring wave, an avalanche of pure terror that devours every cell of my body in its path of destruction.
And it really is destruction. What the wave eats, it burns. It takes all before it, consuming everything the cell has to offer, and more: its very mode of being. Once the usual, the habit, the accustomed, the daily routine has been destroyed, what is left?
Ashes. Space. Nothingness.
Cleanliness. A fresh start. Ultimate clarity.
And then a new confidence, an exultation and celebration that the old fear can no longer touch me, ever. I have experienced it fully and I survived. It became part of me, it took away what no longer belonged, and I am left with peace.
This is a reorienting to a new way of being. Suddenly the old is gone and I am left with an alert stillness, an exciting knowledge of infinite possibility and potential. I am so much bigger than I was before.
Because the real truth is, that when I face a fear and come out stronger on the other side, I realize that the fear wasn’t really such a big deal after all. The scariest part of feeling fear is the idea that I am too small for it. That I am not enough to come through. That I don’t have the force or energy or existence-ness to be big and strong and tall and happy and powerful. It’s not about the size of the fear, it’s about the insignificance of me.
Facing my fears, over and over and over again as each new one rears its head above me in the surf of my emotional illusions, only shows me the truth of who I am: I am God. I am divine. I am a drop in His ocean, made of the same stuff as everything else in the universe. Nothing and no one can be insignificant because we all are holy and we all wear the face of God.
Our fears are just a reflection back to us, of a part of our being that is wave-like. Our fears are aroused by our experiences, they ripple the surface of our lives, seeming harmless among the depths. As our moments become more acute, the waters become shallow, and the wave of fear rises up, suspended in air, curling around our sharp rocks. We hold our breath to stop time.
Then, the surrender.
Let the breath go. Let it out. Breathe out with force and strength and also with the knowledge that it may be your last exhalation.
The wave crests, the fear spirals in upon itself. It also has nowhere to go. The fear also panics that it cannot maintain its course. It no longer knows who or what it is. It also surrenders to its own path, to its own beauty.
I have never felt compassion for fear, before.
The final climactic fall: the wave slams itself against the beach. It beats itself out of existence on the sand. It dies. The water returns to the sea, cleansed, leaving its flotsam at the highwater mark. It becomes part of the eddy, it feeds the creatures in and around it, perhaps it melds with the next wave.
And the cycle begins again, but the water knows its worth.
This is what facing fear means to me.
What does it mean to you?