There is a lot of fear being thrown around lately. Do you feel it? I do. Fear of violence, terrorism, immigrants; of our economy, lost jobs, lost freedom, lost way of life. Fear of guns or losing our right to have guns. Fear of anyone not like us, especially in our bathrooms.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
There’s a part of me that gets it. Totally. I stood in my kitchen on Sunday morning in ignorant bliss of anything having gone more wrong than my sore knee after a run, clicked on my radio to its usual NPR dial, and in an instant my day totally changed.
My almost 14 year old daughters were with me, listening to the stories pouring over the radio waves; shots fired, gay night club, dancing, death, blood, hate, chaos, terror, 50 people, worse massacre in U.S. History. We watched the President and heard reports of Donald Trump sounding the alarm again to block all Muslims from entering.
We eventually turned it all off. A little while later one of my kids said “I’m starting to feel afraid to go anywhere anymore.”
Ya, I get it. There’s a lot of crap going down right now that seems to invite us to be afraid, and if we aren’t, then we really don’t know what the hell is going on.
Be afraid. Be very afraid. But what if we choose NOT to be afraid?
Years ago, when my husband and I were still newly married without kids, we went camping in the gorgeous redwoods, and invited my sister and her two young boys to come along. The first night they arrived, our peaceful starry skies and roasted marshmallows was alarmingly interrupted by shouts of “Bear! Bear! Bear in the camp!”
People ran, screamed and scrambled to get to safety. Peter threw water onto our fire as I helped my youngest nephew over to his mom and brother in their tent before turning to run and dive into ours.
Not 30 seconds later the bear was in our camp. We heard it, so close we could feel its hot breath. And then it was gone. As quick as it had come into our quiet, peaceful night, it was no more. I imagined it loping up the side of the mountain, wondering what it was feeling.
All the next morning, over the fire and throughout breakfast, there was talk of nothing else. “Will the bears come back? Why did they come here? Do they live here? Do they eat kids? Are they hungry?” We took a little hike to help get their minds on other things, and for my slightly older nephew it worked. But the little one was having none of it.
Every few feet, his hand clutching tight to his mom’s, he would raise his small little voice and say “No beaw wanna eat me, huh mama?” And she, or me, or my husband would respond “Nope. Bears don’t like eating little boys.” Which would suffice for a few more steps, and then, “Those beaws don’t wanna eat me, huh Mama, they not gonna come back to eat me, wight?” And on it went.
We want, need even, to be reassured that those things, creatures, people and ideas, that are out of our control, outside of what we know is safe, will not be able to get us.
Years later, when one of my twin daughters added “Just bears” to her nightly prayer litany ~ “there are no monsters, no wolves, no polar bears and no “just bears” ~ there’s just mommy, daddy, siblings, friends and family” ~ I didn’t think much of it. Of course she’s adding bears to the list. They’re big, wild, scary animals. Just like polar bears and wolves.
The story of fear comes from patriarchy and it goes like this: anything or anyone you cannot control or know, ought to be feared. This is why dominance is a hallmark of patriarchy. It is the anecdote to fear. Dominate, control, assert power-over and you can eliminate or at least dramatically reduce, fear.
For my nephew and daughter, the wild animals represented the fear well. Wildness, that which is untamed and out of the cage, is scary, and not just for young ones. If it’s not within the limits of my understanding, then it just might come out when least expected, and try to eat me.
So, we build up walls around the boundaries of our stories and try to live so that nothing out-of-control or unexpected can get through and threaten us. We grip hard at keeping it all in line; ourselves, our jobs, our families, our love life, our self-expression…pretending we got this.
Pretending, because the truth is, control is an illusion, just like the boundaries of those absolute patriarchal stories telling us who and what is wild (read wrong) and who and what is tame (read good). It’s all pretend, fake, a lie. That bear in our seemingly controlled campground environment was no more “wild” and untamed than we were to it.
It is all about perspective; about what you CHOOSE to see and believe about what is real. And the only thing, the only power that is truly real, is Love.
What happens, I wonder, if we choose to tell this story from another perspective? What if, for instance, we were to say “Bears, wolves and polar bears ARE just bears, wolves and polar bears. They are animals, just like me and aren’t out to get me, even if I don’t understand them and I don’t necessarily want to play with them.”
What if we did the same for, say, Donald Trump (this one is a challenge for me…). “Donald Trump is just a man. Like me. He is human, he is flawed and more than anything, he is Loved. He isn’t out to get me, even if I don’t understand him and choose not to play with him.”
Feels pretty good actually. How about trying it yourself?
How about for a 40 day practice? Join me, beloveds, in a 40 day No Fear for Real Challenge! Here’s how it works. Whenever you feel the pulse or pull of FEAR…the kind that leads to gossip, drama, anxiety, blame, victimization, hate and judgment…PAUSE…BREATHE and repeat: “This (fill in the blank) is JUST A (fill in the blank). Like me. It is not out to get me, even if I don’t understand it, and choose not to play with it. It (fill in the blank) is Loved.” OR you can abbreviate with “JUST BEARS and LOVE!”
If you want MORE of the power and potent mojo that comes from Re-Telling Patriarchal Stories, hit reply and send me a note requesting a time to chat about the upcoming 12 Week Summer to Fall experience of Re-Telling Patriarchal Stories!
We begin end of June (or early July) and go through the end of September (or early October)! Space is limited and it’s filling up! Go here to find out more info and/or, just give me a shout!
Here’s to JUST BEARS and LOVE!
AmyJo ~ also known as ama