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  • Jason McCarty

Accepting That Which We Fear

I want to write about the experience of embracing fear, or the very experience which one fears happening. Whether it is the actual experience or being very near to that experience does not matter as much. I believe the same, if not similar, feelings arise. I want to write about this because I am having a hard time putting my own description to it. I want to write about it because it is a feeling that has both discomfort and comfort in it. It’s intriguing to me as I experience being very close to something I fear, and yet I feel something positive.

What is that something positive? I’m not sure yet. It feels like several possible things. Most of the time we are busy fighting the experiences we fear most. Sometimes we can keep them at bay and other times we cannot. Most of the time we formulate in our minds how horrible those experiences are, or might be. Sure, they are or can be painful, but that need not be the only way in which we experience them. But in our society we work very hard to keep what seem like painful feelings and experiences at bay, not realizing the fruit and satisfaction those feelings and experiences can provide. It seems like we always have to produce a solution to anything that goes awry, whether that is a process, a behavior, a law, a procedure, or a pill. We often seem hell bent on ridding ourselves of human experience. We have basically only made room for happiness and that’s about it. But what if happiness is connected to all other emotions and experiences?

When I think of the feeling I’ve had lately in my current struggle to face my circumstances, I think of it as grounding. Accepting my circumstances and that which I fear, is grounding. But what does that even mean? One word that comes to mind is that it is calming. I feel less anxious in fighting off my fear, and more calm in accepting it. But there’s more in the experience of accepting that which I fear. It is almost satisfying. It almost has a feeling of quenching a hunger – most likely a hunger that could never be satiated. We can often have ideas and longings for our lives that lead to continual grasping and longing that just leave us “hungry.” It’s a horrible feeling, hunger. When we die to longings that are not coming to fruition and when we die to our own fears, it is as though a dysfunctional hunger disappears. This new, very real experience of acceptance allows us to feel full. Weird thing to think about.

Lastly, I would describe the experience of accepting that which we fear, as feeling alive. Feeling out of control of my life, feeling uncertain of where its going, being very close to one of my fears and accepting all of that, makes me feel alive. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the time, probably most of the time, I am fighting my reality. I want things to be different in very big ways. I find myself getting angrier about things. But when I am able to accept it all, I feel alive. I feel clearer and calmer. I don’t feel as though I’ve arrived because the journey isn’t over and there are places I still want to go. But accepting that which I thought would be horrible, accepting that which is horrible, or painful, or uncomfortable, or humiliating, can be freeing, empowering, and satisfying in away I never thought possible.

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