In her book, Steering By Starlight, Margaret Beck writes, "We aren't born with these negative feelings. Human infants have only two natural fears: the fear of loud noises and the fear of falling." This is an "Ah-Ha!" moment for me. Do you find it as stunning? Are you kidding me? Those are the only two fears I came with? How the hell did the rest of it all glom onto me? Who did this? And, why?
Can it be true that the entirety of the things that make me crazy and stop me from trying is acquired behavior? Imprinting us with fear starts from the beginning. We're taught to be afraid simply to keep us alive. "Hot! Don't touch!", "Don't run with scissors!!", "Stop it or your face will freeze that way!!!" We've all heard these dire warnings.
My all-time favorite was from Nanny, The World's Meanest Woman. She'd say, "If you don't listen, you have to feel!" She was right; if I'd have listened when she said, "You're gonna' get hurt," I would have saved myself some painful experiences. Despite the pain, in my head I'd be huffing, "You're not the boss of me! It's my life and I'll do what I want, so there!" Even if it scorches me a bit around the edges.
I used to have a sign in my room, "Runs with scissors!" Ah, life on the edge. Now I think, man, that's pretty dangerous! On lots of fronts I've become a wuss... What happened to that girl who would chance running with scissors? Life is lived to have experiences; to acquire first-hand knowledge. Getting hurt and failing are necessary parts of the experiment. Given that, what's the tipping point that turns the use of fear to keep us alive, into the demon that keeps us from living?
I still hate loud noises. Heights make me nervous. But, they don't keep me up at night. By Beck's meassure, no survival issues for me. Instead, the things that do make me Sleepless In Greensburg are quality of life issues that I've layered on...am I still attractive because I sure am getting older! Where's the money going to come from? Is there something wrong with me? Wonder what he really meant by that? Do I look fat in this?????!!!!!!
The idea that I'm my own worst enemy is always a tough pill to swallow. But, learning that I'm also my own Bogey Man? Oh, for heaven's sake...
I'll be pondering this one for awhile. Do you find Beck's statement as frustrating and enlightening as I do? Your thoughts and comments will be most appreciated. Check back and see what others share. More importantly, how do we proceed from here? How do we become truly intrepid? How do we remember that surviving ain't living?
Namaste' Till Next Time,