It’s Terrific Tuesday and I hope you make it so for you.
If you’ve been following me this last week, I’m sure you’ve noticed the theme of taking a positive, if somewhat trite, alliteration on the day of the week and then taking a deeper look at what it means and how we can weave it into our lives for self-improvement and to improve the world around us. This day isn’t like the others because I don’t have that cutesy word prompt to launch into today’s to-do.
Today, we face our fears. It’s hard to move forward if you don’t know what’s holding you back, so today, take a look at what terrifies us. I know terrific and terror don’t seem to go together – well, they don’t – but what terrifies us is usually a terrific fear. Sorry, that’s the best I can do!
Our fears are as unique as we are, because what makes me stop in my tracks, reduces my voice to a gurgle and raises every hair on the back of my neck maybe similar, but can never be exactly the same as your fear. Our fears are our own because fear is based on our internal views and senses. The Pixar movie Monsters Inc. is one of my favorites, partly because it points out what is a monster to one is a giant, cuddly kitty to another, and what is a horrible, slithery creature to one and just another gator that got in the house to someone else.
No one else can face your fears. You have to do it or stay mired in self-doubt and indecision. As another favorite Pixar movie – The Incredibles – points out, no matter what amazing superpower we have, fear can makes us lead shadow lives of our full potential.
And facing fears and doing things that at first glance I think I could never accomplish, make me stronger and more brave. Facing fear produces courage, certainly when we’re successful, but even when we’re not. We have looked the monster in the face and said ‘You are not going to scare me anymore,’ just as Boo did in Monsters Inc. I wouldn’t advise the wholesale attack with the frying pan, however!
Sometimes what scares us becomes reduced by maturity and knowledge. I don’t think there’s a closet out there that can spook me today as it did when I was little. Other fears take some investigation and mental toughness to overcome. When I was in college I walked a few blocks from my apartment to the campus. It just happened that one of those blocks was full of dogs – big Saint Bernards, small yappers and two very mean, aggressive dogs. I usually walked on the other side of the street from the yard with the two mean dogs. If you walked in front of the house, they would come barreling toward you, growling and barking, drool flying from out between very large sets of teeth and then they would get jerked back by their chains right at the small yard fence. This time I was lost in thought and I was only halfway across the street, when here came the dogs, one white, one black, both mean as anything. I was transfixed on them, waiting for the chain to jerk them back, but it didn’t. They leaped the small fence and had me “cornered” in the middle of the street, snarling, barking and snapping the whole time. I kept eye contact, except for one moment when a car passed by on the cross street and I looked up. In that brief moment, one of the dogs whipped behind me and tried to bite the back of my knee. It put a tooth hole in my pants, but missed my leg. All the other dogs on the street were barking, including one in the house behind me. I heard the lady tell her little yapper to be quiet and she closed the front door without offering any help. I was getting desperate and I had no idea how I was going to get through this when suddenly rocks started pelting the dogs and they went back into their yard. I was rescued by the mail letter carrier who had started chucking rocks at the dogs from the corner across the street.
I thanked her and crossed to the next block, but I was looking back to make sure she made it past the dogs. Suddenly a loud droning filled my ears, and when I turned back around I was walking through a swarm of bees. I didn’t get stung. The bees where huge and flying around as if in a weird daze. It was a black mass of bees all around me creating an incredibly loud buzz. I dodged bees even several blocks away near campus, but at this point it was just one here and there. If I didn’t move, they would drunkenly fly right into me at an unnatural slow motion speed.
After that, bees were my nightmare. I never much liked bees, but after that I would run screammie memmie down the street if a bee came close. And it wasn’t so much the bee or the fear of getting stung. It was the sound. Dogs? I had no problem with dogs. I love dogs. It took several years for me to realize I had transferred the trauma from the incident with the two mean dogs to the noise of the bee swarm. But once I did, I was able to face that sound and be around bees and I became stronger because of it. No, I’m not Bee Woman and, no, I don’t have a super stinger with which to skewer bad guys, but I can at least work in my flower garden beside the bees.