A few days ago, a fellow blogger wrote to me about his reflections on fear and pain. It somehow prompted me to write one for myself and as a comment to his letter.
Fear is a necessary evil.
As we grow older, our consciousness of the “I” in us also grows. We come to grips with the intricacies of life, and we become more aware that we are vulnerable mortals. We experience pain. We realize death as an eventuality. Most of all, we come to know day by day that life has far too many uncertainties. And so, the innate instinct in all of us animate beings that has been passed down from generation to generation is slowly being awakened and the instinct is called self-preservation.
Self-preservation is like a shadow that is always with us, staying most of the time in the background. This shadow only comes out in the foreground when fear activates the switch of self-preservation. There are two possible psychosomatic reactions: flight or fight.
I have always believed that self-preservation has a blanket-like characteristic. When we extend ourselves to other people, self-preservation shadows our relationships as extensions of ourselves. When we attach ourselves to things and properties, self-preservation blankets our properties as extensions of ourselves.
And so, when we perceive any threat to people or things that we care for and are important to us, the scale of self-preservation is tipped and we experience fear.
Self-preservation is the totality of our own perceived notions of continued persistence and of preferred importance. To continue to truly live everyday is the full expression of self-preservation.
Fear then is a necessary evil. It reminds us that we care, whether for the wrong or right reasons.
Pain is also a necessary evil, both physiologically and psychologically.
Physical pain triggers our reflexes to work. All reflexes were devised for self-preservation. Emotional pain is our mind’s grieving mechanism towards a severed blanket of self-preservation over those which we consider as extensions of ourselves and considerable personal importance. The pain of rejection is grief over a failed extension.
What would life be without pain and fear?
That would be beyond this life…
To truly live in this side of life is to go through the spectrum of experience.
Should fear and pain transfix us to a standstill?
It should not.
We could always choose to fight instead of flight.
And so we have courage. Courage is not the absence of fear or numbness to pain. Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear. So goes Mark Twain.
Anais Nin wrote that life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.
Then, we must have courage.
Perhaps we could never return to that childlike state of being fearless and carefree. But then, the essence of that experience is not lost.
We must fill our wellspring of courage to the brim.
Only by then we would be able to persist in life with the enthusiasm of youth.
And finally, Helen Hayes (1900-1993) says it all:
“Every human being on this earth is born with a tragedy, and it isn’t original sin. He’s born with the tragedy that he has to grow up. That he has to leave the nest, the security, and go out to do battle. He has to lose everything that is lovely and fight for a new loveliness of his own making, and it’s a tragedy. A lot of people don’t have the courage to do it.”
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