Figures of Fear

When life feels uncertain, it creates the feeling of chaos. Uncertainty sparks defensiveness, insecurity, and fear. FearĀ manifests and gnarls itself into many configures. In quarrels, in depression, in anxiety. We all walk with figures of fear on our shoulders. Often creating a different world in our mind than the one swirling around us.

In late-night discussions and long walks, fear wanted to stifle what could be good. Anxiety wanted to take control of our quaint life by the sea. We found ourselves looking at what others had, not recognizing all the sacrifices we have made to make a good life together. It is too easy to look at the lives of others with a tinge of envy, thinking they have it better. It is too easy to look away from the mirror and not see the fear in embedded behind our weary eyes. We are too hard on ourselves and often crumble our own ability to succeed by being destructive about our own achievements.

I had a hard time recognizing myself in the first weeks living by the sea. I was not sure how I fit in a culture that paces itself different to the one I grew up in. I was setting myself up to fail by not understanding how to manage my own temperature levels and my time as a writer. I was letting my hands freeze in a room that never touches the sun, and walking in the same pattern on the streets. I realized I was habitually doing what I do when I have fear about my life’s direction.

I often like to think I live a patternless life, but we all live in patterns. Some of us just move in large swirls and spirals that curl in slightly different ways in each season. When I tied on my running shoes for the first time here, I could feel my stiff bones barely wanting to move. Yet, movement is what helps us rise out of the darkness in our mind. Movement is what helps the feeling of a directionless life.

Running around the bay, feeling the brisk wind turn my cheeks rosy red, I wondered what our life could be here. We both know that our time here is short, as with any season is being in your twenties. Life moves fast, yet slow at the same time. We all are trying not to drown in the debt that promised us to lead to a better state of living. In reality, we all are just scraping by paying rent and transportation costs. Articles swirl around that millennials waste money on avocado toast and creating our own ruin. Yet, all our generation asks for is a livable wage and a workable way out of the pit of student debt.

When life takes away, I realize more that the insecurities we have are created from a place of fear. Fear that we are not living the life we want to be. Curiosity is breathing into the potentiality of a life well-lived, knowing that it can change at any moment. While taking in the brisk cold air of the bay, I felt the brief nature of life itself. Watching the birds dip in and out of the water, not knowing their environment changes with the tides and the footprint of human life.

In the recent tragedies of the news, my heart grieves. I woke up the day of the Las Vegas shooting with an uneasy feeling. With hurricanes swirling in the east, wildfires raging in the west, the series of sexual assaults, and the unnecessary taking of lives by a weapon in the wrong hands, it is hard to see any good in the way the world is heading. We can blame one another for tragedy, we can politically debate about what is wrong or right, but I think we are missing the point.

We are missing the reason, the object, and the feeling of fear. It is the same fear that appears in quarrels about daily living, the same feeling of uncertainty when our lives are met with loss and hardship. We are missing the need to listen to one another with empathy. To see one another’s loss for what it is.

When I began to run up the hill back to our quaint home, I encountered a memorial plaque of a man who was born in the port town. He fought bravely in the war, but tragically died from his wounds shining a light on an enemy ship. Even at the Maritime Museum, the walls were filled with stories of immense loss. From the years of war to untimely accidents, every generation has known tragedy to some extent.

We all walk with figures of fear on our shoulders. Even as the world rages with a series of fear-inducing events, I realize that fear will always reveal itself in every societal and personal transition. Moving across the sea is nothing I have not done before, but fear traced me in the shadows, trying to overtake who I was, who I am.

As I walked back into the house, still feeling the inevitable cold seep through the walls, I knew I had a choice. It is too easy to choose fear over letting life be good. Even when it feels like the universe is repeatedly knocking us to the ground, we can still choose to stand up.

Figures of fear do not stand a chance if we choose to stand up against them.

Our lives are delicate in natureĀ and brief in the grand scheme of time. How we use our time is up to us. While life seems to knock us around in every new transition, we still have the choice to push our head above the waves. If we can come together in our fear, in our time of tumultuous uncertainty, then life can be good.

Let it be good.

Love and Light,

Bethany Jane




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