Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Fear Factor

Last weekend, as Saturday opened up to give us a day without rain (which we have needed, but my goodness!), I headed out to work in the flower bed and the vegetable garden.

The sky was lovely, the air crisp and clean from all the rain. I had little to fear in the way of pollen, anyway.

Our tiny garden is surrounded by fence to keep the deer away. If it were a bigger plot I would gladly share and let them have their due, but in such a small space that means I end up with nothing.

Hence the fence.

The garden is not far from a very large blue spruce tree. And inside the tree a mother bird sat.

She did not appreciate my presence near her nest. She squawked and hopped and carried on as if there was no fence between us. I ignored her and continued with my hoeing and weeding.

But she was terrified that I would do something to her eggs even though I was as non-aggressive as I could be. My presence alone was enough to for an adrenaline rush.

While I worked, I thought about this bird's fear. From my point of view, there was no reason to be afraid of me. But she did not know me.

I was the big U - the UNKNOWN.

Fear of the unknown is what keeps us all from embracing change. We don't know what will happen if things change. Every time the government changes people, we are terrified. Right now the changes President Obama is trying to put forth has scared many people, right and left. (Personally I don't think he's going far enough but no one is asking me.) So you get a lot of squawk squawk squawk from the media and from various sides of the political fences.

All around me, the birds are terrified.

And what about me? What am I afraid of, I wondered as I sat back on my heels, my knees in the mud and my gloves caked with dirt. What are my fears?

My friends say I am fearless and sometimes offer examples. I have gone up in a hot air balloon. I've flown in a bi-plane with a crazy man. I've stood toe-t0-toe with mayors, county administrators, judges and others who would do their best to silence the Fourth Estate.

I quit my 9-to-5 job and went to work for myself.

Maybe when I was younger I was not as fearful, but these days I find fear all around me and in me. The exterior fears of my countrymen seem to have settled on me like a weary dark blanket. Everyone is afraid and their nervousness permeates the air when I am out in public. Sometimes it is stifling, the fear is so thick.

Losing my biggest freelance client has left me fearful that I won't be able to replace that income. Immediately that moves to a fear of being one of those poor ladies who live under the overpass, pushing a shopping cart with all of my worldly goods. This is completely irrational. My husband has a good job!

I also fear being alone. My husband loves me and I have friends, so this is also irrational.

Other fears:

- having some kind of disability that made me a burden
- being unable to take care of myself when I'm old(er)
- dying before I've done whatever it is I was put here on earth to do
- disappointing people
- not living up to my potential
- success
- lack of success

I'm sure there are many others, but these came to mind while I working.

Overcoming fear is not an easy thing to do at all. Sometimes I think we're all just like that bird, squawking at nothing that is going to harm us.

Calming down and understanding that the big hulking giant in the vegetable garden isn't going to hurt us is difficult thing to do.


  1. WOW! You hit on a topic that I deal with on a daily basis and just wrote breifly about on my blog before I read yours.

    I admire you for being able to ride in hot air balloons and in a plane with a crazy man because even thinking about it makes me nervous.

    I'm not sure if you're fearless but you are brave and that I think will always keep your head above water. You aren't afraid to take leaps and you have to be willing to take those in life.

    What a great article. I really enjoyed it. You hit on a subject that plagues me - FEAR.

    I think bravery is a gift. And a little of bit of fear lingering in the back of your head is normal and maybe even laced with a bit of common sense.

  2. Thought-provoking post, Anita. I do think that you're right about the constant presence of fear these days. But a lot of it is not without good reason. My husband finally got a job a year ago after seven long months of unemployment, but the organization he works for is considering layoffs, and since he was the last hired, he'd probably be the first fired. And when we had the recent big health scare, we were both terrified of (1)the possible cancer, of course, and (2) the possibility of losing his job and our health insurance and then probably our house. This was a real and legitimate fear that kept us both awake at night.

    And by the way, I agree that President Obama is too timid in his changes and is trying way too hard to please both sides. It disappoints me. We need changes that are far more radical in this country.

  3. Anita, I like this post and the comparison to the fluttery bird.

    Miss Angie's word on bravery nails it for me. Just like the bird, we all have rational and irrational fears. Being afraid is part of our makeup. Being brave means protecting that nest of eggs from the big scary human at all cost. Being brave is going out to the garden anyway, occasionally squawking at the scary things, searching for the worms anyway, instead of being paralyzed in the nest, afraid to move.

    BTW, I can relate to your list! Could add a few more to it!

  4. I wonder how many are having those same fears? It is odd to hear them from someone else. My worst fear is being homeless or being unable to care for myself.

    Here is something for you from "A Course In Miracles":

    "Nothing Real Can Be Threatened.
    Nothing Unreal Exists.
    Herein lies the peace."

  5. SInce I don't work and my husband does, I fear for his health. He works too hard and I long for him to leave his job one day and work for himself from home doing what he truly loves to do. Fear, however, is what keeps him from doing so.

    It's sad how for so many of us that our fear controls us. Not sure why we can't just cast it aside and live happily.

    The Blue Ridge Gal

  6. Anita, when I was 17 my parents told me to leave home. We weren't fighting, they just decided it was time for me to go. I was attending college and working three jobs to make ends meet. And I was scared to death. I knew nothing about being self-sufficient. I clung to 2 Timothy 1:7

    For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

    I learned to depend on Him because He was all I had. I've failed over and over again, but God has never failed me. When fear creeps back into my heart, I think about all the times He's bailed me out and filled me with peace.
    For some, I suppose that sounds corny, but for me I've lived it. It's reality.


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