— By Neal Lemery
I can find a lot of things to be afraid of. Nights can be long and my imagination can easily flesh out the shapes and skills of many monsters. Whether or not they might be real doesn’t matter, for they take root in my brain, where I can easily imagine them in all their hideous glory. They feed on my heart energy, too, sucking away my sense of self-esteem and my sense of purpose in this world, to make it a better place and to live my life as a loving, caring person, governed by kindness and generosity.
Those fears feed on my self-doubt, and the wounds left from previous battles and the cruel words of others, who have felt entitled to evaluate and grade my many possible deficiencies. They are partners with the insecurities that live in that mental file cabinet drawer labeled “not good enough”. It is also easy to feed on the drama and gloom of the day’s headlines.
I can see the glass as half empty or half full, and the problems of the day either a disaster or as opportunity. Life has an abundance of choices, and opportunities to act with courage.
We all have choices. Every generation, every time has had its challenges. Society has faced and managed other crises and obstacles, and the human spirit has prevailed. Now it is our time to deal with today’s challenges, and we are well-equipped to take them on. We are the descendants of generations of successful problem solvers and leaders.
I am my own gatekeeper, the captain of my own ship. I am the one who has the power to let others in, to march around my heart, and speak to me on a deep, personal, and vulnerable level. If their presence does not serve me well, then it is up to me to show them to the door and to leave me in peace. I remind myself that I live my life for me, and not to please someone else.
If I let fear run my life, to be the governing principle of my existence, my personality, and my spiritual essence, then I need to own that choice, as well as the consequences of that mindset, that perspective of how my life is to be managed and lived. I suggest, however, that such a mindset, of fear and doom, such a psychological software package, is contrary to my own self-interest, and my own self-benefit. Being fearful is not who I want to be, nor how I want to live.
Today is Rosh Hoshana, the Jewish new year, a time of self-reflection and new beginnings. I am both comforted and motivated by these wise words from the Talmud:
“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”
published in the Tillamook County Pioneer, 9/7/21