I just finished reading A Year by the Sea by Joan Anderson for the book club I belong to. It's the story of an 'unfinished woman', taking a sabbatical from her marriage by spending a year alone at her Cape Cod cottage.
In the book, after several weeks of hibernating, the author spontaneously hitches a boat ride to a small off-shore island, where she spends the day alone, swimming with seals.
Within our little group of women, this brought us to the topic of fear and how we cheat ourselves out of life's joyful abandon by allowing fear to dominate our choices.
It seemed serendipitous as earlier in the week, I'd had a conversation with someone I love about just that subject.
Most people think fearless people are courageous, but I think the antithesis of fear is surrender. I'm certainly not a brave person, but I've learned to combat fear by giving my apprehension over to the universe, surrendering the outcome to chance. And every time I do, I gain a little more confidence, a little more self-respect, a little more courage. If I want to defeat fear, there is no other way...I have to dive into it.
In Year by the Sea, just before she plunges into the unknown and swims with the seals, the author wonders if her need to control outcome has brought about her fear. "Why am I more cautious as I age instead of the other way around," she asks herself. "I wonder if it's all tied in to failure. I tend to forget my gains and remember only the losses. The failures have piled up, wreaking havoc with my confidence until, as an adult, I've become afraid to take chances."
But by trying to always control outcome, don't we cheat ourselves out of wondrous unknown possibility? Fear is a tool of the dark side...the negativity in our head that tries to keep us from becoming the whole person we are created to be. Each time fear creeps in, confidence and self-esteem seeps out. So, rather than equating fear with Avoidance, what if we equated it with Advantage?
What if we used fear as our guide? What if we used our fear to alert us to the areas of our life that we may most need to explore? What might we gain?