As long as we are breathing, there are infinite possibilities.
A good starting point is with a question: What if I completely let go of the fear body and were released from the gloomy future it predicted? And then another question: In the absence of fear what would I want my life to be about? And then another: In the absence of fear, what would motivate me toward that life?
As we ask these questions and feel the resistance they provoke, we begin to recognize how hypnotized we are by the fear body. Recognizing our own neurosis is the beginning of freedom.
Tim Burkett, Nothing Holy About it, The Zen of Being Just Who You Are
The distance doesn’t matter;
it is only the first step that counts
La distance n’y fait rien; il n’y a que le premier pas qui coûte.
Marquise du Deffand, 1697 – 1780, French hostess and patron of the arts. She was commenting on the popular legend of Saint Denis who was said to have walked for 6 miles carrying his head after being beheaded.
I asked the poet Tony Hoagland what he thought about fear. He said fear was the ghost of an experience: we fear the recurrence of a pain we once felt, and in this way fear is like a hangover. The memory of our pain is a pain unto itself, and thus feeds our fear like a foyer with mirrors on both sides.
And then he quoted Auden: “And ghosts must do again/What gives them pain.”
Mary Ruefle, On Fear
Once there was a young warrior. Her teacher told her that she had to do battle with fear. She didn’t want to do that. It seemed too aggressive; it was scary; it seemed unfriendly. But the teacher said she had to do it and gave her the instructions for the battle. The day arrived. The student warrior stood on one side, and fear stood on the other. The warrior was feeling very small, and fear was looking big and wrathful. They both had their weapons. The young warrior roused herself and went toward fear, prostrated three times, and asked, “May I have permission to go into battle with you?” Fear said, “Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask permission.” Then the young warrior said, “How can I defeat you?” Fear replied, “My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.” In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear.
Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
Sometimes we build a reality out of our greatest fears or anticipate the worst of others, when the reality is far from what we have constructed:
Unaware that our stories are stories, we usually experience them as the world. Like fish that do not see the water they swim in, we normally do not notice the medium we dwell within. We take for granted that the world we experience is just the way things are. But our concepts and ideas about the world, like the stories they are part of, strongly affect our perception of reality. In … practice, one learns, early on and then continually, the truth of my favorite bumper sticker: “Don’t believe everything you think.”
David Loy, The World Is Made of Stories