What do you fear? Can you make a list? Or do you get prickles on the back of your neck just thinking about jotting down those heavy anchors of anxiety?
I made a list of my fears this week. Know what I learned? Fear is the equal and opposite reaction of the heart.
See, the deepest part of my heart has this true north. It knows where to go. It needs no rationalizing. No reasoning. No explanation. It is and has always been. It will be there in the morning when the sun rises and when the shades are turned down for evening slumber.
But then comes along Fear, like the drunk at the party who ruins the casual conversations, hurls in the punch bowl, and passes out on my newly-laundered bedsheets, only to wake in the morning and wonder how the hell he got there. You’d think he wouldn’t be invited to the next affair, but yet there he is, his invitation clutched in his hand with a bottle of Jack in the other. Time to crash and burn, again. You asked for it.
Heart: Let’s experience the world. There’s so much unchartered territory. It’s time.
Fear: Really? What about those obligations? How can you take the world off your shoulders long enough to enjoy it, anyway?
Heart: Please don’t keep me locked in here much longer. I’m bursting at the seams.
Fear: Are you sure? I don’t think you’re ready. Why don’t you settle in to a more comfortable setting? Here, I’ll give you a few distractions to keep you busy. Makes the days go by faster, you know.
Heart: You’re giving me someone else’s problems? Honestly, It’s like I’m talking to a brick wall. Look, why don’t you just get out of my way. I know where I’m headed.
Fear: Ah, but dear Heart, did you forget what you’d leave behind? What will the others think? What makes you entitled to do what you want? Selfish! That’s what you are. And just when I was starting to like you…
Mind: Well, Heart, you know he’s right. it isn’t in your nature to hurt anyone. Just yesterday, you invited a down-and-out friend to join you for tea in your chambers despite your overbooked schedule. And oh dear, it looks like she left things in a mess! Better get this place cleaned up before your next guest! Where was it you said you wanted to go, again?
Heart: Ugh, not you, too! I could keep this place clean if you would stop convincing me to invite guests who overstay their welcome. I know you’re both worried about me, but I assure you, my map is pretty reliable.
Fear: Must I remind you, Heart, of the last time you went out on a whim? Oh, how easily you forget! You lost poor Mind along the way and then all hell broke loose. You failed then. You will fail again.
Mind: I know you mean well, Heart, but last time you raced ahead and I couldn’t catch up. There I was, lost in the wilderness with my list of to-dos just getting bigger and bigger while you were out gallivanting to God knows where….
Heart: I knew where. I know where now. Let me go.
Fear: If you insist. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Mind: Wouldn’t tomorrow be a better day to start, instead?
Heart: <face plant>
A wise friend of mine told me that if I’m living with one leg in the past and the other in the future, I’m pissing on the present. With my list of fears in front of me, I realized how piss-soaked my “right nows” had gotten. So, I did something to stay vigilant of the present. I grabbed a lighter and lit a flame, and watched my list of fears slowly but surely burn into powdery embers.
Note to Mind: It’s time to take a backseat. Heart knows where she’s going. Stick with her. Keep her in check, but never in line.
Note to Fear: You’re an asshole. Back off unless there’s a real wolf afoot, rather than the one you’re parading to be.
Note to Heart: Go. I’ve got your back.