I cannot talk about my life without first talking about fear. Most of my life has been consumed by fear. I was afraid of everything.
I'm not talking about the little fears of my life, though those are a good starting point.
I was afraid of being physically hurt.
I was too afraid of crashing to learn to ride a bicycle. Later I was too afraid to drive a car for the same reason.
Even though I was good at baseball when I was a young, I was afraid of being hit by the ball.
I was even afraid that people would find out how afraid I was as a child.
I was afraid of handling money.
I was so afraid of failing that often I wouldn't even try.
I was afraid of making mistakes.
I was afraid about what people would think or say about me.
I was afraid of being rejected.
I was afraid of being alone.
Most importantly, I was afraid that people would find out who and what I was.
And this last fear was paralyzing . . . not just something that made me uneasy or embarrassed or whatever it is that other people may feel when they think they are afraid. It was total . . . abject . . . blinding . . . brain numbing . . . feel like you need to vomit . . . rip your heart out . . . capital . . . F . . . E . . . A . . . R . . . fear.
What other force can so dominate a person as to make them pretend to be someone they are not just to survive? What else can make a person wait until she is 44 years old before she can step out into the light of day and actually begin to enjoy life?
Fear is the hardest foe. It can make us constantly reexamine every possible ramification of every possible event until we make no decisions whatsoever, caught in it's awful grip, carried on by a river of a circumstances over which we exert no control, turning the paths of our lives into quagmires from which there seem to be no escape, into mazes that we wander aimlessly, endlessly.
Then one day there comes a point when in order to survive, we have to face the fear, stand up to it and spit in its eye and say, "I want to live." And do it...slowly and tentatively at first, to be sure, but soon we can learn to embrace life, to clutch it strongly to our souls, to learn to shout at the top of our minds, if not our lungs, "I AM NOT AFRAID! THIS IS MY LIFE AND IT IS WORTH AS MUCH AS ANYONE ELSE'S AND WORTH MORE THAN MOST! AND I AM GOING TO LIVE IT AS I DAMN WELL PLEASE!"
And that is a start. That is the moment of Courage . . . the time when we start to live by our own rules rather than for other people's convenience. And that point is when we become true homo sapiens . . . thinking people . . . real people . . . people with a contribution to make in weaving the fabric of the world.