Facing Fear


FEAR                                       (*Article previously published in Vermont Views)

Recently I’ve been reminded of the power of fear—our collective and our individual fears: of moving forward, of the unknown, of change. Trauma in life hits us with such unexpected force, catching us unaware or unprepared and sometimes leaving us seemingly incapable of dealing with the after effects: the path ahead, the new normal. Are there ways we can steer ourselves ahead within a state of uncertainty, and still manage to steady ourselves (and others) without putting the brakes on and abandoning our reality? Can we take small steps forward and even watch our potent reactions and aversions to our circumstances?

Life keeps changing, nothing we relied on in the past can absolutely be relied on in the future, because everything in the universe moves, spins, unfurls, closes, disappears, reappears—without our control. Beloved trees are cut down, sources dry up, hopeful candidates lose, and people die, but just as importantly, new seedlings survive and grow, new sources of inspiration or substance appear, and new people or opportunities enrich our lives.

Life hits us, life hurts. … it can’t be avoided. Sometimes our physical selves just want to stop us from moving on. Armies within us who want to protect us cry out, we panic, we cry, we can’t breathe, we face what seems like the end of the world … we step on the brakes…

Even so, after repeated harsh blows in life we can choose to automatically put up walls to protect ourselves from pain, thus avoiding any chance of undergoing such discomfort again or stretch to step into the unknown without letting the fear stop us. It is our nature to protect ourselves from pain, yet by putting up walls in protection, do we not distance ourselves from who we truly are…sentient beings capable of feeling? When we allow something to get through, allow our deeper selves to be touched by circumstances (as we see in the innocence of children) we allow ourselves to experience the freshness and aliveness of our choice—to react or not, to become overwhelmed or not, to have compassion or not.


Facing the worry
Facing the wall
I pace back and forth
Back and forth
Worrying about the dust, the goddamned dust
Covering the unused places
That once grew life

It’s all in me
The reticence
The bewilderment
The procrastinating
The deeper fears
And I can’t quite see the reason for it

This body, my physical body
Has dug in its heels
Has said “enough”
“This is what I cannot do.”

Then lifting my head to the west I see the clouds over the river
Beginning to move over the land toward the light
Their colors like jewels in a hair clasp
All silver and topaz and gold,
Lifting, curling,
Telling me that it’s all on its way
Moving as it should
A part of the process
And my heart lifts with the light
Saying “enough,”
“This is what I cannot do
But maybe, just maybe,
this is what I can.”

poem copyright  J. Ferrari, 2016

*for more articles by Julia Ferrari, see:

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