Alexander Averin

Monday, 28 April 2008

More Musings on Fear

Dear Diary,

This may contain cliches.

Come to the edge, he said. They said: We are afraid. Come to the edge, he said. They came. He pushed them and they flew.
Guillame Apollinaire 1880-1918

Apollinaire was a French poet and critic who helped to direct poetry into unexplored channels

I have been musing some more on Fear and here they are. It is revised homework for my writing group.

Let's start with a poem.

When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high - piled books, in charact'ry,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen'd grain;
When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And feel that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love;—then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think,
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.

John Keats


Fear. A great abyss. Deep and wide. Shivers, jitters, butterflies. The knocking of the knees. The creeping of the flesh. The chilling of the blood. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

True to the synchronistic formations that seem to always surround my life: as I type these words Jack Savoretti is singing these lines

To Hide all my fears
in his song Chemical Courage.

Is it telling me I hide all my fears? I admit I have fears that are far too personal to write about. I am sure we all have secret fears of which we dare not speak…….to anyone. Demons I call them. Perhaps these demons are only worries, but what are worries, are they not just baby fears?

I had a fright yesterday morning when I opened the back door to call the dogs in from their first-thing-in-the-morning outing. There were two red kites, a male and a female, circling the tall pines by the river, close to the back door. They were swooping down into the branches of the treetops where the pair of collared doves have made their nest. I blew the whistle I just happened to have in my mouth. (I blow it to call the dogs sometimes).

I blew it furiously, standing at the base of the trees, waving my arms about frantically at the same time and in the end the kites moved somewhat reluctantly away. The male was just huge, the biggest one I’ve ever seen. I did feel fear then. Fear for the doves and whatever may lie in their nest. But it is Nature and I have to harden my heart.

This is one of my favourite quotes.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure
Marianne Williamson

Fear causes hesitancy or is it hesitation? A shrinkage of the doing of things. Sometimes it is Nature’s Way of Warning, then it wears a sensible coat.

Perhaps when I was a child I felt instilled with fear of a God (a man-like creature sitting high in the sky perhaps?) He always ruled by fear so I had to be Good. I see now that’s how any authority can impose rules and controls (ring any bells?). My whole childhood was spent in a state of apprehension, is this just watered-down fear? A sort of uneasy anticipation and expectation of failure, caused by the lack of necessary confidence.

I am no longer fearful. Stop. Delete that. I tell a lie. I fear harm coming to my loved ones. I fear their loss and of course the loss of my children would take away my very lifeblood and I would most certainly die. It would be a final straw in the stakes of loss. Because I am a mother, a grandmother and a born worrier too, most of the fears I experience are for others, not for myself. No-one was around for me to warn of this, how the umbilical cord is never truly broken and that there will always be a connection between a mother and her child, both in this world and the next. So I am fearful yes, but timid never. My O’Connor family motto:

Nec Timeo Spurno.
I neither fear nor spurn.

But I am fearful sometimes, of course I am.

What else do I fear?

Death is a little scary, especially as I have been close to its abyss on more than one occasion. However it is unavoidable, rather like taxes. I believe that dying is a journey to a new and a most probably better form of existence, so if I am to be honest it is not death that I fear but rather the leaving of the known and the leaving of the loved. I suppose, like all control freaks, I fear losing control. I fear losing my memory, or any of my faculties. I fear becoming ill but then who doesn’t? Hardly worth the wasting of the ink to put that down.

I know I am brave because bravery is feeling the fear and doing it anyway. We all do that don’t we? There is nothing I wouldn’t do if I HAD to, I would even overcome my fear of heights and walk a tightrope if it meant saving someone. I could most easily kill in cold blood to protect myself or my family.

There are degrees of fear and types of fear. They range from the mildest of phobias to full blown terror. Talking of phobias mine is emetophobia which is the fear of being sick. That is one I cannot always suppress and the fear is not as uncommon as I had always thought. When I was nursing, I had to deal a lot with vomiting and the like but luckily that did not affect me as it was not me doing the retching.

Spiritual writings have taught me that fear dissolves in the light of love. How true that is. Anyone who resides in a dark place should come out into that light. I have also learned that what we fear is drawn to us - like attracts like and all that.

Fear of the unknown caused by ignorance fuels scaremongering, hatred, racism, mass hysteria, mob rule. Panic. I have never panicked in my life. Another lie - maybe I have a wee panic when a mouse is loose in the house or a bat or a bird.

Fear has many partners. Fear and intimidation for one. A lot of fear is instilled in others by bullies; abject cowards who can only work in groups with others - sheep like individuals - who also only feel brave in a group. The only way to treat bullies is to stand up to them I am afraid.
Some fear is healthy in my opinion. The fear of heights and crazy funfair rides go into this category. The way I see it is our bodies are being sensible and fighting for self-preservation. It would rather we did not take risks. But there are those folk who get some kind of kick out of being near the edge, of being in dangerous situations. I’ve never really understood that myself and can think of better ways to enjoy myself.

I am afraid I must stop now. I am afraid - that slipped out - I am not afraid to say it at all - isn’t the English language peculiar sometimes?

If you are ever nervous, New Age gurus will ask you to think:
What is the worse that could happen?. That’s good advice.
Remember there is nothing to fear but fear itself. Fear is just a monster that lives alongside you, a demon that is purely imaginary.

Face him head on.

And nothing matters in life - except love.

Bye for now,


Frances said...

Cait, once again you've written a blog that will get us thinking, reflecting.

Wariness is another interesting state to explore.

Wish that I could take more time right now to do some exploring, but must get ready to go see my eye doc for a regular glaucoma check. Sure that doc drops will leave my eyes dilated, so there will be no looking at this computer screen for a few hours.

Best wishes. xo

Exmoorjane said...

Fear is familiar to me - mainly in its smaller sister forms of anxiety, worry and anticipation. Funnily enough I am not afraid of the bigger things (can grapple with blood, walk down a dark street etc) but it's the everyday fear (mainly since becoming a mother, I think) that cripples me.
Much to reflect on here, as Frances so rightly says.


I Can not say I was brought up in fear of God,I always thought of him as beign loving and rather patiently uderstanding.Fear itself is my greatest fear, onec you oveocme that there is nothing.As ever very reflect yet deceptivley simple blog that encourages deep thoughts.

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

My favourite saying is from Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day and Piglet was fearful and saying what if a tree falls on us and Pooh replied and what if it doesn't.

So yes I ask myself what is the worst that can happen and what if it doesn't.

Fennie said...

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself - beware of fear - so said, if I remember correctly, Helen Mirren's mother.

Yes, plenty to reflect on, Cait.

I like your last line. There is a quote - by a mathematician I think - to the effect that nothing matters very much, and few things matter at all. Except love, naturally.

CAMILLA said...

Dear Cait,

A very interesting blog on Fear.

I can write so much here Cait, but it would be just the same as you have wrote, we are so similar and so alike. I would kill to protect my children from harm, would swim the deepest ocean for human or animal to save them from drowning, even though I have a fear of swimming in the sea.

I have ordered the book on FEAR which you have kindly given us the info on Cait, thank you.


Wooly Works said...

An amazing viewpoint. Thanks for your honesty and for making me look at myself honestly. Aren't mothers all quite alike in their fear for their children?

The worst that could happen? I suppose that depends on the day for me. Some days, death seems like more than I could bear if it were my children, and other days I'm able to trust that death is a beginning.

Pipany said...

I think I am a little like Jane where anxiety and worry, both surely forms of fear, are the ones I live most with. Of course, the bigger fears of a parent are always there but I try to keep them hidden as they are just too huge to handle.

Great blog Cait and very thought provoking xx

Faith said...

I hope the kites stay away from the collared doves nest. We have a pair just begun to visit our garden (doves not kites!).

I do not fear God - who made all and knowest all - 'he' must know what I'm like.

Wooly, that's what I think exactly about death. Well expressed.

Thanks for the blog Cait.

Cowgirl said...

Did you write it just for me - of course not. But you may well have.. thank you, Cait, you help me so often.



Pondside said...

I like this post, Cait. Much of what you wrote goes for me too, which is something I've often found in your writing.

DJ Kirkby said...

You have emtephobia? So do I!!!! Mine relates to a fear of others being sick though, luckily I have only been sick myself a very few times. I had to endure 2 years of counselling during my midwifery training so that I could learn to cope with vomit well enough to work as a midwife. Crazy world...