For the Love of Fear: Going From Shake-Up to Wake-Up.
In this time of global pandemic, as it becomes more apparent how much is outside of my control, I find myself growing more dependent on my connection to the natural world.
I am fortunate to live in a remote area, privileged to spend hours wandering in the desert. I am deeply comforted by all that is wild, alive, and vulnerable. Yesterday as I walked, I saw myself in the beaten-down brush, the prickly cacti, the half-budding trees, and the bunnies that scramble in search of shelter.
Then I sat alone on a dusty hill. I welcomed the discomfort of the jagged rocks that dug into the flesh of my thighs. Alone in the desert, my creatureliness was so visceral and apparent. I remembered that I am like anything else in this world, utterly defenseless and unmistakably accountable to the mysterious delicacy of existence.
I found this grave admission to be profoundly soothing. I realized in that moment, I don’t need to cling to safety or hope for a way out because neither of these exist. There are no exceptions when it comes to the naturing of things. We are made of love and fear, in equal measure.
For over a decade, I suffered from debilitating panic attacks. My hands and feet would go numb; my thinking would become impaired. After years of therapy and embodiment, the panic attacks stopped, but anxiety continued to visit me in my dreams. While sleeping, I’d become lucidly aware I was dreaming so I would open my eyes, only to discover myself inside of another dream.
This would repeat, three, sometimes four times. Each time I would inch closer to waking life, yet continue to be held hostage to my unconscious.
Desperation would send me into a panic, and my body would become paralyzed. My limbs unmoving; my eyes and mouth glued shut. After a few terrorizing moments I’d finally wake up, like a frightened newborn crying out and gasping for air.
It’s sometimes like that in my waking life; what scares and overwhelms me is often the thing that wakes me up. Fear rushes in to remind me, sometimes with a terrorizing persistence, that there is more to me than the story I live inside.
Like water through rock, fear reshapes my very nature. Some argue that love is more powerful, yet when it comes to transformation, fear has done more for me.
Sometimes I think fear is just blinding love in disguise. Perhaps they are two sides of one powerful energy. Love leading us to vessels that keep us from drowning, and fear acting as the benevolent, deconstructive force that forces us to let go and allow the currents of awakening to carry us.
In times like this, it’s easy to become imprisoned in the metaphor we call life. We have concretized our material world to such a degree that we continually forget that we are so much more than these bodies and the habits that have come to define us.
Fear is a wake-up call, an invitation to become lucid while dreaming, to turn and bravely face the unconscious prisons we hold ourselves hostage in.
Fear isn’t here to shut us down, it’s here to wake us up.
We may not be able to go all the places right now, and maybe that’s a damn good thing. If the dream of everyday life becomes suffocating enough, perhaps it’ll wake us up. We may resist. We might feel paralyzed. But eventually the dream will lose its power. Forced to face our anxiety, we will snap upright. Become vertical, awake and ready to live our lives with our eyes more open than ever before.
It is the better aspects of our human nature that we are being called toward, such as that which bands us apart-yet-together in solidarity, sheltering in place in order to quell nature’s dark redirection. If we are wise, we will accept this great pause, and bow before the reflection being offered to us.
I don’t plan to waste my precious breath cursing the present moment or sighing in despair. I plan to more boldly flex my own nature even if it’s only possible within these four walls I call home.
I will choose to see this crisis as a reminder of just how fleeting it all is, and let it be an invitation to express my own nature more unapologetically and in the name of all the brave souls who, in this very moment, are fighting as they take their last breath. It is to them that I promise to do what we are being called toward, should we be spared, to live and to love.
Candice Schutter is a life coach and writer. She’s the author of two comprehensive online coaching programs, and has been a somatic educator since 2001. In September 2015, she was inducted into the Atheneum Writing Fellowship through The Attic Institute. She is currently working on her first full-length book.