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©January 2001

Carol Jane Remsburg







Our fears are something we live with everyday.  They aren't anything we talk about and certainly nothing we're proud of.  Some of our fears are of the innocuous sort that impact our lives on a peripheral basis.  The fear of crickets, of flying, and perhaps of making a simple phone call can delay us or reroute us but they don't stop us.  We continue on with the business of living.  Funny thing is that when we explore it further, we have a myriad of fears that reach from the small to the tall, of the kind where we wake from sleep with a scream on our lips as we hope we aren't dying on the spot.


When the question first poised in my head I thought of many things, mainly on the physical front.  I fear snakes, bears, sharks, and snakes.  Oh, did I repeat myself?  Bears don't reside in my locale but sharks do if I were to venture into the ocean—which I don't just for that reason.  However, snakes, well snakes are everywhere unless I was to immigrant to Ireland.  I have a rather horrid, rabid fascination/fear with snakes.  They seem to love me and seek me out.  I, on the other hand, would rather they kept to themselves with a semblance of respectful distance.  There just have been too many encounters to shrug off thus anything outside of artic temperatures keep me watchful of them.  Trust me, I've ruined too many fishing rods beating them off which ultimately put me off the sport.  Even backyard forays to the clothesline have met with similar incidents.


But, back to other fears  . . .


There are also times when our fear freezes us.  We can't grow and we can't get past it.  These are the fears that most of us will never articulate and certainly not share.  Often it's the loss of control over our surroundings that govern our lives that shake us the most.  And it's not just our surroundings it's the people that inhabit our lives.


Generally speaking, most of us live small lives.  I know I do.  We get up each morning and face the day.  Likely it's a workday.  We hustle about after dragging ourselves from bed.  Some of us are eager to begin the day, yet if you are still in school or have aged beyond the wonder of youth, then getting out of bed in the morning is hard.  The bed whispers promises of continued warmth and ease.  We are loath to leave it and face the real world.


That's when our minds begin to work.  It reminds us often that we aren't perfect and could make a mistake, one bad enough to cost us our employment, our home, and even our very lives.


Mortality is one fear, but the fear of failure to many of us is a daily threat.  If you work a high-pressure job, and many of us do, all it takes is a second to send your life to nadir.  Tomorrow you could be bereft of all you hold dear despite all your efforts.


It could be a car accident or illness that will strip from you your family.  You could end up alone, cold, and totally bereft and no one would care.  That's a nightmare walking.  The potential is always there.


I think that's why we have our families—even our extended "away" families.  For if the worst of the worst happened, they might have a place for you.  There might be some salvation and new beginning.


Fear is not a bear, a shark, or even a snake.  Fear is much more alive and rapacious than they.  Fear lives, breathes, and invests itself in your soul like a disease and can cripple you worse than cancer.  It can kill you if you aren't brave.


Some of us aren't brave.  I'm not.  I thought when I was little that I'd grow up and learn how to be an adult and be confident in all things.  While I'm confident in things I know and I'm strong and willing to fight, I'm certain in the knowledge that all it takes is one misstep for disaster to befall me and I could find myself alone and bereft.  Material things I can lose.  Being alone, shunned, and unloved would send me straight to hell. 


Perhaps it's because Mom and Dad are now gone.  They've been gone a long time now, well over a decade.  They left long before their time and I wasn't ready, willing, or able to meet their leaving.  


Growing up is supposed to give us wisdom.  I don't believe it yet.  I may never.  I don't envision another forty years giving me any more wisdom than I have now.  It will of course, but the answers I wanted as I child, a woman of my age ought to be able to answer.  I still can't answer them.  Wisdom of the ages may turn out to be a fraud.


So when it really comes down to it, what I'm most afraid of in this life is that the wisdom I've long hoped to acquire will never be mine.  I won't hold it in my gnarled, arthritic hands as a prize for growing old.  I won't be able to stare out through my rheumy eyes with a sage cackle and know the answer to life while secure in my knowledge sitting in my warm kitchen.


What I want is the power of my mind, my body, and the control over my own destiny.  I want to be safe and knowledgeable.  Most times life isn't as giving as that. 


If I can't have that, give me that little island in the Pacific where I won't swim with the sharks, there will be no bears, and no snakes.  Give me coconuts and a quiet shack with a DSL connection, peace, and the love of my family.  Yep, I could go for that.  It would be a quiet place to put all my fears to rest.


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