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Turning fear into joy

I’d like to share a few thoughts about fear. Seeing that I am of a certain vintage known as octogenarians, I’ve had a lot of opportunity to study fear, reflect on fear, and, of course, feel fear. And here’s what I have learned.

Trying to ignore fear doesn’t work. Trying to suppress fear doesn’t work. Fear is a resourceful character and if we think we can put it behind us by ignoring it, we fool ourselves. Fear is perfectly happy to continue working its mischief in our lives “out of sight and out of mind.” It may take a while – this has been my experience – but we wake up one day and realize there is a price to pay for not facing this ancient enemy.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” said FDR, and the words are as true today as they were when he first uttered them.

But there is another side to this story. If and when we do finally face our fear – when we say, “okay buddy, you’re not going to ruin my life or limit my life any longer—when we let go of our resistance to fear and allow ourselves to actually feel its presence — a miracle happens. We discover that fear turns to joy.

This is what happened for me a year or two ago when I was diagnosed with colon cancer. Fear was on the scene immediately, of course. It loves taking advantage of difficulties and challenges that arise in our lives. This is what keeps it fed and happy.

But I came to see that it was not only fear that was calling to me. As I deliberately faced my fear—sitting quietly in my chair with no other intent but to feel my fear—no longer trying to ignore it or run from it–I realized that love was calling to me too, just as it is calling to you.

I realized that the love of our true nature is always present with us in the midst of our challenges—and that in the presence of this love there is no fear.

What a miracle: There is an antidote to fear. Thank you for reading these words. I would love to hear your thoughts. My love and blessings to you.

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