Brought my newly repainted chair to the paint store twice today. Sometimes it's the shear having to load and unload it that is daunting. I'd really rather not bother. Then I think about how I'd really rather not carry the burden of Fear either, yet I still do. So I load and unload and carry the chair.
While waiting for two gallons of house paint to get mixed, I walked around the corner and got a bagel for breakfast. The place was hopping. A good vibe buzzed in there. I saw people take notice of the chair. Of me as I walked in. I placed my order. Stood waiting. One woman looked long at the chair then smiled at me. Then I heard from the direction of the people still waiting to order, "I just have to ask you about the chair."
I told her my story, which I realized later needs to change a bit. I am not carrying the chair until I no longer need to carry the burden of my Fear. I will carry the chair until my Fear is no longer a burden that keeps me sitting out on life. There is a difference. Again, my purpose is not to get rid of Fear or conquer it. I realized my error in expressing myself because she asked me if I've gotten a lot of advice on how to get rid of my Fear. But I didn't notice the relationship to my story until later.
Anyway, I asked her if she had any advice. She directed me to some good authors and books. Some of which I've read, others, not. I told her though that I've read quite a bit about life and fear (some good ones: "Art and Fear," "The Gift of Fear," "Addicted to Danger" to name a few) but reading is one thing, creating a metaphor that I carry around is completely different. It takes me down into the Fear/s rather than just medicating. Like cleaning out an infected leg before bandaging it. I think I've bandaged myself in my Fearfulness quite a lot in my life. And it workded. I've continued to walk quite fine through life. But there has always been a niggling, deep pain that went with me and kept me from dancing as much as I believe I can in life. It's kept me sitting out. So, the I am digging and cleaning.
She asked me what I am finding I am afraid of. I laughed and told her, "Far more than I thought originally. I began this feeling I'd maybe carry it a couple weeks, maybe a month at most. I didn't think I had THAT much Fear." But here I am day 44 and still hauling it around. She said, "like what?" I said the big stuff, like taking up space on this planet. She's Buddhist, and I wonder if that's why that Fear didn't register. Her face went a little blank. I said, "visibility." I wish I had said "worthiness," for that is at the root of my Fear about visibility. and really, the Fear of being unloveable is the even deeper tap-root. But I didn't say that. She said, she was asked if she could have a super power, what would it be and she said hers would be "invisibility." I've heard a story on by John Hodges (I referred her to the backlog of "This American Life" to hear it) where he writes about asking people if they had a super-power, either invisibility or flight, what would they choose. It's a good story. I should listen to it again.
What this taught me is that I am still afraid to really engage with people. I am worried they don't feel heard so I am so busy listening to them that I don't play my part. Like an actor too focused on her cue, I forget to put myself into the role. This woman was the first person to really challenge me about the chair though. I have to say, I am surprised it has taken so long. But I am glad it is finally happening. I need to do more than just carry it. I need to be thinking and talking about it and answering tough questions. And, let's face it the toughest questions won't come from me. They're going to come from someone who believes they have some answers for me. They're going to come from someone who thinks this FCP is bullshit. They're going to come from someone who doesn't know or give a crap about me. Not that this woman was harsh, she was lovely, but it was clear she didn't know anything about me and so she felt very confident really pushing me. Also, it seemed she was very ready with her answers about what I should read regarding Fear.
She was ready to grapple with me and my chair and I pulled out easy answers to her questions. She had a bit of an agenda and I willingly laid myself out for her to feel good about having something to give me. I was "nice." I have great disdain for people who are "nice." Yet here I am, playing it safe, trying to help someone feel good about herself when what she also seemed obviously very strongly capable of was wrestling with a complete stranger over something that really mattered. I wimped out. Shit. This is me. I back down. I play "nice." I make sure others feel good at the expense of being real with them.
I must be clear I don't always play "nice." I can be quite headstrong and a bit overbearing sometimes. But when it is about something deeply meaningful and potentially tumultuous, I tend to put taking care of others before being true to myself.
Anyway, later I had a conversation with a coworker about rock climbing. I need to write about how learning to and doing rock climbing got me over a significant phobia about spiders and and fear of heights. Not tonight though. I must sleep.