I was sitting home alone – actually, in the dark. And, I was thinking back to earlier days when I was young, when I was so fearful of the dark. Actually, terrified. I remember I would call for my mother – call out for her. Quite often, she would come in and she would ask me what I was afraid of. I remember telling her I didn’t know.
I find that that’s the way most fear is. When we do have fear, we’re not real sure what we’re afraid of.
Remembering back to my childhood there were times when I would maybe say the Boogieman or that I saw something move. Maybe I heard something under the bed or heard something in the closet. I remember my mother would be very kind anytime I was afraid of the dark. She would turn the light on, look under the bed, have me look under the bed, open the closet, and examine the room and make sure that I was safe and that I was comfortable. She would make sure the light was shining into the darkness.
I’m thinking back to today, and how most people’s lives are consumed with fear. Myself, I’m hoping that I continue to be in recovery from the news – choosing to live in the here and now, without the news media’s coverage of all the bad things that happen. However, given social media and the sights, sounds, and images that are everywhere – you can’t successfully avoid all of them. I understand there’s a whole lot of fear in the world. Much of the violence is based on ignorance, and ignorance is based on fear – fear of something that you don’t understand or something that is different from you.
And, maybe we choose not to understand it. Much like that little boy that was five (5) years old, sitting in the dark in his bedroom, being afraid and not being too certain of what he was afraid of.
So, how do we deal with fear? I’ve learned through the years to deal with it through mindfulness. I deal with fear by simply paying attention on purpose to what is going on around me, and being able to stop, being able to center, and being able to step back. I first label and identify the fears that I have. As I begin to really examine and be the observer, I begin to realize that most of the fears that I have had in my life were actually unfounded. Most of the fears that I had in my life were of things that were not going to happen. I used to play the “what if” game with myself almost constantly. I could certainly get into catastrophic thinking very easily. And, I see that – and, today I see people living their lives in that same fear.
So, what do we do about that? I understand that there are certain groups out there that instill fear. But what we need to realize is that those groups, and that fearmongering, has been going on since the dawn of time. People rule by fear. They rule with threats – threats of violence, threats of taking things away from you, threats of loss of liberty, threats of loss of livelihood. Those threats are what instill fear. The people making the threats don’t even have to do much of anything – just instill that presence of fear.
How do we meet fear in our daily lives? When we’re anxious, and when we’re worried, if we truly look at that – all of it is underlined by fear. My thought is that we instead choose to face things with courageous faith. What is faith? Faith is understanding. Faith is believing. So, we approach these things. And, how do we do that? When we talk about fear, I believe we talk about darkness. What is darkness? Darkness is a lack of knowledge. Darkness is a lack of understanding. Darkness is a lack of looking into your inner self and seeing that inner light inside of you.
So, my thoughts are – as was the case with that five (5) year old boy when his mother would come in and turn the light on – is in the same way we turn on that light of our own inner self. Turn on the light of knowledge, and shine it into what our fears are.
Now, of course, there are some legitimate fears. Fear can be a powerful motivator. Fear can be a wonderful thing for self-preservation. And, that’s natural. However, that fear is also combined with a mind of awareness rather than with a mind of fear. So, when we use courageous faith, we go through our life and we try to shine a bit of light into our daily life. We talk about positivity. Fear is nothing but negativity. Fear is consumed with negativity into your life – and, what we try to do with the negativity is try to create an air of positive. And, of course, in the yin and the yang – one cannot exist without the other.
So, my challenge – to myself and to everyone out there – the challenge is to do acts of kindness. Not random acts of kindness, but actual kindness. There’s a Jewish concept to give one hundred (100) blessings a day. What that means is that we do good things in our every day. When you approach that busy cashier at the grocery store check-out line, compliment him or her on how good of a job they are doing. If they are smiling, acknowledge that smile and remark on how they’re doing. Open the door for someone. Do a kindness for another. When you’re walking down the street, throw a quarter into that person’s basket or cup or whatever they have out there. What is your intention? Is your intention good will? Is your intention to spread the darkness? Is your intention to spread the light? If your intention is to spread the light, then that intention is pure. No matter what that person does with that quarter, you may consider yourself blessed by your own intentions in giving it to him or her. So, not only is what we do a reflection of light – we reflect that light onto others. And, we do that through kindness. We do that through loving kindness.
When we speak of the Buddhist traditions of WOW and we speak of Islam and we speak of Judaism and we speak of Christianity – all are centered around compassion. All are centered around doing good deeds and taking care of others. In the twelve (12) step recovery world, it’s mentioned in there that our purpose is to fix ourselves to be of maximum service to God and to our fellow man. And, when we approach that with a mind of awareness, we can shine the light on fear for exactly what it is. We can recognize, label, and describe the way things are.
My challenge out there today is for myself, and everyone reading this, to look for ways of kindness. Kindness does not mean that I have to feed all the people in Africa or cure diseases. It can be just a simple thing of reflecting the light – like telling that cashier that he or she is doing a good job, and that their smile has brightened your day. And, that’s my hope for everyone today.