Fear is powerful. It keeps us safe and preserves us to live another day. It also isolates and inhibits us.
I keep hearing people in the media talk about what a scary time this is. I ask myself what it is we’re afraid of and what good does being afraid do for us? How much of the fear is real and how much is perceived?
The biggest reason I started writing the Faderville novels was so I could delve into matters which touch us all. Have you ever been afraid to speak to a stranger, start a new job, go down a dark alley, travel to a place you’d never been to before, or had a phobia you couldn’t shake? Some of our fears have a rational basis. I have relatives who have died of cancer. Being diagnosed with it is my greatest fear. Rational? I’d say so. Scientists say a meteor could hit the earth in the future. Am I afraid of that? Uh, no.
Some of our fears are grounded by things that have personally happened to us in the past. In Say Something, Beam Larson has a phobia of dogs because as a young child she was seriously injured by one. The emotional effects of that event remained so deeply ingrained that her first encounters with Buzz Donovan’s seizure-alert dog, Hush, bring that trauma to the surface. Until then, Beam has been able to avoid dogs, figuring as long as she never goes near one again, she’ll be safe. After all, any dog has the potential to bite.
But she can’t avoid this dog. Not in her current situation, anyway. And despite her worst fears, nothing bad happens. At least not as any result of the dog’s actions. In fact, in time she begins to realize that by refusing to ever trust a dog, she just might be missing out on the good things Hush has to offer.
I’ve been bitten by more than one dog. (Hey, I used to be a dog groomer, and some of those dogs don’t want anyone touching their feet or untangling their snags.) But I don’t judge ALL dogs based on those few. I can’t even envision a life without dogs in it. They have brought way too much good to my life to shut them all out.
Think of all the times you overcame fear and lived to tell about it. You spoke to a stranger — and ended up falling in love. You started that new job — and began a career. You went down a dark alley — and came out on a brightly lit street at just the right spot to catch a bus to get where you were going on time. You traveled to a strange place — and saw breathtaking sights and made memories that would stay with you forever.
Let me repeat: Fear can keep us safe. It can also isolate us, robbing us of potential friendships and the benefits of cooperation. We don’t grow by giving in to fear. We grow by overcoming it.