Alexander Averin

Saturday 22 March 2008


Chemical Courage

Stop my music player on the right (to avoid getting two songs playing at once) and listen to Jack Savoretti sing live - he is an ahead of his time singer/songwriter.

Dear Diary,

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

I’ve been asked to write about fear by our local writing group, it’s our subject for ‘homework’ this month. M chose it actually. Thanks M.

A friend always says that I must think laterally (must !?). Trouble with me is I’m an Arian and being the ‘selfish’ sign we tend to relate everything to ourselves.

Could I write a story with fear as the theme? I doubt it.

A poem? Maybe. But I have to be inspired to write a poem.

A blog? Well that would indeed kill two birds (if you will pardon the expression, I know how many of us are bird lovers).

I am not a fearful person.

Nec timeo nec spurno

is the O’Connor motto.

Neither fear nor despise
I rather like it.

I do have one big fear, it’s a phobia actually which is of being sick. I have labelled it emetophobia. I've just checked and it is actually a word! Phobias are a state of mind brought about by an oftimes irrational fear. We take the fright and our body is affected in all kinds of ways. Our blood runs cold in more ways than one.

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 blog 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 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. I felt what Faith must regularly feel when her doves are under threat from the sparrow hawk. We have one of those round here too and it has been catching small birds from our neighbourhood - it’s heartbreaking but it’s Nature. I just have to harden my heart.

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.

Talking of which, a friend of mine went with her daughter to a Mother and Daughter Workshop recently, she was telling me about how good it was . She is older than me and her daughter is older than mine, but they too are very close and I would loved to have had the same experience. It used art and all sorts of mediums and one of the things she learned was how daughters carry their mother’s ‘burden’ down through the generations, on and on. I could relate to this. Burden is not the word she used but you will probably get the gist of what I am trying to recall. What she explained resonated with me in the fear of loss that I hold and which has been the wound that I have carried all my life.

But if fear is being afraid then I am never afraid. Look out, here comes another cliché. Being brave is feeling the fear and doing it anyway. It is called courage. Do you remember the book by Susan Jeffers. I remember reading it many, many moons ago and thought it was a great book. I don’t know what I would think if I read it again now, for when many years have passed, books often don’t have the same effect do they? I believe they come along in your life just when you need them. Often the library angel leads you to them, or the bookshop one, or a friend……

I digress. I do Just Do It anyway (when I feel the fear).

Fear is usually caused by something more powerful that is exerting a power over you causing you dread.

I fear outcomes rather than people. I could fight anyone to the death with my bare hands if I had to defend myself or my loved ones. I suppose what I really fear deep down is being Out of Control, I am such a control freak.

Ignorance can breed fear too and that way leads of course to prejudice

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.

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

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.

If you are ever nervous, New Age gurus will ask you to think

‘What is the worse that could happen?.

That’s good advice.

My blessing today is a poem:


You can
die for it--
an idea,
or the world. People

have done so,
their small bodies be bound

to the stake,
an unforgettable
fury of light. But

this morning,
climbing the familiar hills
in the familiar
fabric of dawn, I thought

of China,
and India
and Europe, and I thought
how the sun

for everyone just
so joyfully
as it rises

under the lashes
of my own eyes, and I thought
I am so many!
What is my name?

What is the name
of the deep breath I would take
over and over
for all of us? Call it

whatever you want, it is
happiness, it is another one
of the ways to enter

Mary Oliver 1935-

Before I go here is an (edited) poem I wrote five years ago at a time I did feel truly afraid, again not for myself so much, as for others.

Impending Invasion of Iraq, 2003

The nightmare starts:
Burnt bodies, dead babies,
body-bags, cremated soldiers,
children fleeing an invasion
brought about by bullies.
Hunters of a prey,
so easily taken.

Bush’s pact with the Devil
Is a fight for control
with Oil as its Prize.

Nothing Rhymes.
The lies won’t add up.
So many heads buried
deep within sand.

Just my powerlessness prevails.
Filled with sadness for this world,
I am like the child again
who wakes at night in fear.

I’ll sign off now,

Stay safe,



Faith said...

Susan Jeffers wrote Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, not Erica Jong as of course you know Cait, you probably got mixed up. I like this book, its on my shelf and I read it occasionally. Susan Jeffers website is good too. I fear something will happen to my daughters or my husband, but don't really worry about myself. Good blog Cait.

Cait O'Connor said...

Yes Faith, thanks for pointing that out! I have just realised it myself as I read it back. The book I am thinking of is Fear of Flying. God knows why but I get them mixed up (the authors I mean not the books).

Westerwitch/Headmistress said...

Oooo very thought provoking blog - will go and have a look at Susan Jeffer's web site (thanks Faith). I think you get more fearful perhaps as you got through the menopause . . . which is a hormonal fear, but the black thoughts do come.

CAMILLA said...

An interesting blog Cait, and yet again we are so alike.

I have fear of driving in the dark, never have been able to get rid of that one. I also have a fear of being sick. It's like not being in control of your body.

Whenever a Cat or even my Daisy try's to catch a bird, I wave frantically and screaming at them, so that they do not hurt beautiful birds.

Even though now I am afraid to swim in the sea, I would hurl myself into the deepest ocean so that I may save a person from drowning, and would fight tooth and nail if someone wanted to get the better of me.

Thanks for the info on the book Cait, I will order from my local library.


Chris Stovell said...

It's many years since I read 'Feel the Fear'. I too found it a really interesting and enpowering read at the time but I'm not sure that I could reread it now either for fear of diluting the message!