Finding Freedom In The Midst Of Fear
Death is, by great paradox, the greatest teacher of life.
Perhaps the scariest thing about the current pandemic is the thought of death. What if my parents die? What if my children die? What if I die?
It doesn't take more than a second for these thoughts to enter our minds, and even less than a second to feel the visceral, gutting fear that ensues.
We think, Oh my goodness, this is real, something terrible could actually happen to me or my family.
Death is downright scary. The thought of it entraps us in our minds, making us feel like there's nowhere to go, with no escape. For some, the fear of dying can feel claustrophobic.
To put it another way, fear hurts.
Most of us live under fear
As soon as a cloud of doom enters our realm of experience, we hunker down like a scared animal. We tense up, do irrational things, and begin to shut down. We lose touch with who we really are.
Notice how quickly you can shift from feeling calm to feeling frightened. All you have to do is read one headline, watch one video, or get one text from a friend. A moment ago you were fine, and now you're freaking out again. What just happened?
When fear kicks in, suddenly we're only interested in how we can protect our own family and friends. Oftentimes, this selfish desire is at the expense of others. Then, our fear of others' selfish desires is what drives us even more to protect ourselves. It's a vicious cycle. It's why you see people lining up around parking lots for groceries.
When we live under the cloud of fear, we and those around us suffer most.
Living through fear
Occasionally, we get so fed up with fear, that we're able to push through. We muster up the courage to use its energy to move forward. We combat the fear through anger, and act in spite of it.
A doctor or nurse experiencing high levels of trauma in an ER has a healthy reason to be fearful, and is likely using that fearful energy to treat their patients. The patients on their deathbed have a strong reason to experience fear, and I can only hope they're finding peace in their experience. Acting through fear in these situations is a wonderful display of courage and strength.
However, most of us are quarantined in the comfort of our own homes, taking in the news while we sit or connect digitally with our loved ones. There is no real problem for us in our immediate experience. There is no reason to be fearful. We are not sick. We don't have a loved one who is sick. And yet we're still driven by the fear.
Fear-driven action is not the highest path we can take. When we act out of fear, we close our hearts and neglect the well-being of others.
You don't have to live under or though the fear. There's another option, which is to live above it.
Living above the fear
Most of us don't have to face the fear of death very often. There are people who do. Perhaps we can learn from them. They still put one foot in front of the other every day. Let them be your inspiration in this difficult time.