I hiked up a jagged cliff in my dreams last night, compelled to move forward by an overwhelming since of dread. My whole body shook from the physical strain of climbing the rock face. Sweat dripped from my brow as I pushed myself further, ignoring the pain shooting up my legs.
I reach the top of the plateau, but my fear refused to abate. The landing was narrow – barely enough room to turn. On one side, the jagged rack face I’d just climbed changed. The footholds smoothed away – along with any ability to descend it. In front of me was a short ledge of rock and granite. It hung over an endless pit.
There was only one way off the ledge, and as my brain understood what would happen next, my body quivered with fear.
I eased onto the ledge of the cliff and peered into the great hole. I knew what I had to do.
But I couldn’t.
Fear had paralyzed me, turning my legs to stone. I stood, my too-loud heartbeat hammering against my chest. The air stuck in my throat as my lungs desperately tried to suck in life.
I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think, couldn’t move.
My mind reeled into focus, pushing against the panic that crept alongside me. I must take action – any form of action. The options weighed on me, crushing what was left of my courage.
Should I jump? Should I try to descend the sheer face of the mountain?
Or should I stay, lulled into inaction by my own terror.
An answer surfaced through the murky waters of my thoughts.
I edged closer to the ledge, fighting my own body, forcing it to comply with my wishes. I swallowed down the bile lodged in my throat, wiped my brow and jumped – floating on the wind as I descend into the abyss.
The dream is always the same – repeating repeating repeating through the years. It is my journey through fear.
I woke, restless and disturbed.
Fear had left its mark on me, tossing my mind around as the image of my descent filters into my conscious awareness.
I thought through the dream and my terror, analyzing it from every angle. The action released my tension and my thoughts became clear. I recognized the source of the fear, the meaning behind the emotion. I directed my thoughts. Relabeled my feelings. Regained control over my life.
And so my dance with fear continues, prodding me into action, compelling me to move forward. It has been this way forever – a push and pull between the things I want to do and my fear.
Fear used to control the dance, lulling me into inaction. It wrapped me in arms of quiet discontent and frustration, begging me to stay frozen in time.
That was before.
I control the dance more often now – staring at my partner in disbelief. Fear can not hide itself from me anymore. I recognize all of its faces –
Fear is not my foe anymore. I welcome it as a reminder to act. A reminder to live.
I do this dance whenever change occurs – though I control the outcome now. And I push forward, through all that I am afraid to do.
And so, as I tend to the things that surfaced this dream to begin with, I will take a couple of days to catch up with life. I leave you with my favorite quote.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
- Marianne Williamson is from her book, A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles, Harper Collins, 1992. From Chapter 7, Section 3 (Pg. 190-191).
I will be back on October 1 with new posts and my new blog. Until then, I ask you – Do you dance with Fear?