“Openness doesn’t come from resisting our fears but from getting to know them well.” ~ Pema Chodron, The Places that Scare You
“Courage is not living without fear. Courage is being scared to death and doing the right thing anyway.” ~ Chae Richardson
Last week we talked about fear. Everyone has their own definition. It seems obvious to point out what it is that scares us. People have all kinds of phobias: heights, spiders, snakes, public speaking, or, rarer, going outside, tornadoes, bear attacks. We learn what we are afraid of by experiencing the conditions that produce that fear. If we are bit by a spider in childhood, we perhaps learn to fear arachnids.
As adults, it is more difficult to recognize or admit when we are learning new fears or building on old ones. We new parents hold their child, they have joy but also a welling up of great terror for the safety of that child. They ask, “How can I love anyone so much? How can I do right by my baby?” With new experiences, even fantastic ones, come new fears. Inside, our writers grapple with new fears and old ones, many of the same ones they’ve always had but also new fears that are born of their new experience in the prison.
We asked our writers this week what they would do if they were free of fear. Instead of answering this prompt, most, if not all, of our writers explored fear as a concept, how it dominates their experience, and also, what scares them the most. Trying to imagine a life beyond fear was too much travel in the short time we had together.