Monday, September 12, 2011

Flight or Fight

"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."
                                                     --Litany Against Fear, Dune: Frank Herbert

Perhaps the most overwhelming and powerful emotion in our lives is fear, and oh the many  forms it takes: social anxiety, phobias (mine are pneumatic tubes and phlegm), public speaking, growing old alone, not being worth anything, the futility of life, failure. The panic attack sets in, your body is not your own, your thoughts become insane architects of nothingness. Your breath, quickening, drives the adrenaline through your body with the efficiency of evolution. The instinct set in: fight or flight.

This is the gift your fear gives you, and why you must not fear in those moments. The body tells your mind that you are in a situation that demands your full attention; that you are either colossally failing or on the verge of greatness. But our instincts are diluted with the spoils of society, we are taught to take a pill, a drink, a toke and to escape. We do not think ourselves through; we do not face Rilke's dragons to find princesses.

But to sit through that fear, to experience it and conquer it, to neither fly, fight or medicate, is to allow one's body and subconscious to inform the conscious mind of what matters most to it. Knowing this, one can decide in still silence and peace what the best course of action is. You become a maker and a doer instead of just another knee-jerk reaction. You being to set your own course through life; you can finally take responsibility for your actions.

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