Saturday, May 19, 2012

What Are We So Afraid Of?

Fear is the cheapest room in the house.
I would like to see you living in better conditions.

~ Hafiz

Along Came A Spider.
A few weeks ago while working my volunteer shift at Children’s Hospital Colorado, I received a special request to sit with a little girl in one of the  9th floor rooms.  Her parents were working and couldn’t be there; she had been alone for most of the day.

From the minute I sat down in that rocking chair, she curled her little body into mine and looked up at me with those big eyes that seemed to say, “what now?”  I suppose it didn’t matter because she already had what she most wanted in that moment—human touch can heal in ways that medicine can’t—and so I searched my repertoire for anything that might entertain and amuse.

I sang a few songs (amusing); recited some limericks (entertaining), and then I came upon Little Miss Muffet floating around up there in my memory bank.  Remember that old nursery rhyme?

Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away
~ Songs for the Nursery (1805)

I’ve known this rhyme for years, but as the words formed on my lips, for the first time, I thought about the implications.  The spider merely sat down beside her and it frightened her away.  Really?  Arachnophobia aside, are we that easily scared of possibility? 

It made me think about the way we all carry fear in our hearts of some kind--real or imagined--for things that may never come to pass, yet in everyday ways we let those fears direct our course.   Like when we withhold our opinions for fear of rocking the boat; or stick with something or someone that may not be best for our lives because we’re afraid of change; or when we choose not to try something new because we might not like it.  But what if we loved it?  What if it changed our lives in amazing and unforeseen ways?  What if that spider became Miss Muffet’s best friend and side-kick?

I once read that lurking behind every fear is an all-pervasive thought of “I can’t handle it.”  Yet we’re so much stronger than we think--we CAN handle it--and sometimes by facing into our fears instead of running from them or avoiding, we learn more about ourselves and what we’re capable of doing, creating, becoming.

What are we so afraid of