Hope is the go-to charm, the point of it all, the reason to get up and do it all again. Hope, however, in reality, can be fleeting. It often caves in to fear.
Fear, on the other hand, is a powerful force. It sticks around, even when you are ready to shove it very far away. Fear treads a fine line of keeping you on this side of harm and on that side of taking the extra step into the scary, but necessary, unknown.
On a good day, fear tempers my adolescent risk-taker mentality that doesn’t surface often these days, but surfaces often enough because these days are strange times. I welcome the checks and balances that this fear affords me.
But fear can get out of control, careening through one’s being like a virus run amok. It can steel your heart so completely that it shuts down your heart to someone wonderful. It can course through your veins and drug you into thinking that all planes will crash, all heights will cause you to fall, and all public interaction is doomed.
Fear, if one lets it, can paralyze you to such an extent that you never see your loved ones, nor those who may potentially love you. Fear, in a word, often sucks. And because I know variations on these types of fear, I face it head on.
Everyday, I push through the fear that makes me wonder if I have made all the wrong decisions that led me to South Florida. Everyday, I force myself to don a game-face smile that oozes confidence and bright optimism, and sometimes I mean it. Everyday, I am scared to open the front door and take that first step outside of my apartment, because I am so utterly in fear that this is the day that the tenuous life I am barely beginning to build will come crashing down, and no one will ever know–or have known me. And then I keep going, and the day is usually fine.
Because I am now a weekday lunch gal at work, I fearfully faced, for the first time since I moved here, the fear of aloneness that looms long and large over a two-day traditional weekend that most working people enjoy. I discovered there is only so much laundry and grocery shopping to do and only so many made-up errands to run, before it’s just me in my apartment, all over again.
Here’s how I filled the weekend hours: I ran three miles on Saturday. I walked six miles on Sunday. I took more than a hundred photos over both days, trashing most and saving the ten best. I then chronicled in my mind the photos I didn’t take during the few hours when I didn’t have my camera, chastising myself for the billionth time about why I should ALWAYS have my camera with me.
On Saturday, I watched the Jayhawks trounce Iowa State by myself, at a quiet sports bar with a zillion TVs, accepting a diet Coke from a nice gentleman who has two boys attending KU. On Sunday, I watched the Redskins lose a game they should have won against Dallas, amidst many a new acquaintance, including the Dallas friend I ultimately owed a drink to, and whom I ultimately did not join, despite his urging, at another spot at the beach.
On this night of pushing fear to the back row, I met a Patrick who was rooting for the Bears. I met a Patrick who was rooting for Dallas as I cheered the Redskins. And then, because these things happen in threes, I found a flyer tucked under my windshield wiper from “Psychic Readings By Patrick” when Sunday afternoon football finally ended, and I headed to my car.
“I can help where others have failed,” he wrote in this flier. “Call for one free question,” he urged.
Okay. Sure. But what would I ask? Can I guess his answer?
For now, for today, I would ask this: “Will I ever let go of my fear and allow myself to just have fun and watch the Redskins as I cheer on the other teams I don’t care about? Oh, yeah, and what about having a semblance of peace in my heart?”
On second thought, Patrick, I am good with simply having the Redskins win next week; and I am thanking you for answering with a brief but fun coffee this morning at a most unexpected time and in the most unlikely space. Right, and thank you, also, for answering with the nail salon tech who almost asked for my ID because she thought I had to be 30 years old–and that made me laugh.
Fear, you have power, but not longevity with this gal. Getting through the next day, casting the following day’s fear aside, albeit only a day at a time–I think I have that down pat.
Good day. Bring on tomorrow, tempered, please, with a healthy fear properly balanced by hope.