Today I am grateful for necessary fear. With lunatics blowing up Paris and other demon-seed crazies strapping bombs to children, then blowing them up in crowds in several locations in Africa, it would be very easy to dig a hole and crawl inside. Fear is everywhere. It’s what the lunatic-demon-seed crazies are counting on. I refuse. I absolutely refuse to spend every day being afraid. I refuse.
But refusing doesn’t solve a thing. It just gives me, personally another focus. What I do accept through all of this insanity, is a greater awareness. It’s not the same thing as fear. It means that I’m not going to shut up if I see something suspicious. I’m not going to look at a duffle bag sitting alone in an airport and “let it go”. I’m going to open my mouth if someone says something suspicious. I’m going to risk being a tattle-tail. I’m going to listen to my guts because they are rarely wrong.
One day at the Walgreens I was waiting in the car as my husband went to collect a prescription. Something odd was going on in the parking lot. Lots of people going to a remotely parked car. They’d sit inside for a couple of minutes, then leave. My guard went up. I copied the license plate, took descriptions of people and other cars. I was Colombo without the raincoat. I didn’t know what I’d do with the info then thought about how so many things might have gone differently if someone had the courage to report suspicious behavior. So we drove right to the police department and I shared my info and concerns. From there it’s up to them. I even told the officer it might have been an undercover cop for all I know. Awareness is not fear.
But not all fear is bad. And not all fears are phobias. Fear of heights, bridges, tunnels, bugs, elevators can be phobias and they need a lot of strong, consistent, persistent encouragement to work through them. You don’t have to get over the phobia completely, you just need to find a way to cope with it so that you can live a full life.
What kind is fear is good? Common sense fear. I didn’t realize how important natural common sense fear was until we had a three year old at swimming class with no fear at all. None! He would have jumped off a cliff into a river. Absolutely no fear. And no skill. He wasn’t confident because he could already swim. He was reckless in spite of sinking like a cinder block. Of course, he had a bubble on him because that’s required at the YMCA. There were only two kids in his class so that made it a little easier for his teacher who wasn’t me. But while the instructor took the other kid out for a short lesson, Fearless Ferdinand didn’t stay put at the wall. He pushed off and twisted to his back and spun around again and went under and bobbed up and flipped face down all in the course of two seconds, resurfacing to grab the wall sputtering. And laughing. No necessary fear! It sounds like we weren’t paying attention but that’s not true. The lifeguard watched him like a hawk stalking prey. When it came to play time, we put the noodles under the arms of all three and let them play together. Fearless Ferdinand wouldn’t stay on the noodle. He rolled off and sank and both of us teachers had to yank him up and re-position him a bunch of times. He was having a blast. We were having a coronary. A little well-placed fear would be a good thing in this case. I know I sure had it.
Fear is necessary so that we don’t step out in front of a bus, or jump off a building, or drown, or otherwise put ourselves in jeopardy. Fear keeps us on the straight and narrow. Fear keeps us in check. I refuse to live my life fear based, but I am grateful to accept necessary fear as an important part of my life.