Why do I fear?

Fear is not real. Let me say that again. Fear is not real.

Yes, it feels real. Oh, it feels more real than anything else in the world at times. It can be all-consuming. Like a massive hurricane swallowing you whole. It can consume you so that nothing in the world exists but that fear.

You may ask: why do I fear? How can you say that my fear is not real?

My answer: examine why you want to believe your fear is real. What is the nature of your fear? How does your fear ground you? How does your fear make you feel?

Imagine you are floating in the vast ocean. Your fear lets you anchor in a location. You can float around, but only within a certain radius of that anchor. It’s interesting because when you feel the chains to that anchor snap taut, it’s a different feeling than the one you usually get when you’re endlessly floating in the ocean.

When you anchor in a spot, you may have a different view of the world than you normally would have floating along. Maybe you get to see one set of constellations from a specific angle that looks beautiful. Maybe you get to see someone else floating by who isn’t anchored. And maybe you’re lucky enough to hang out regularly with another person who is anchored nearby, something you would have been unable to do if you were endlessly floating.

Fear creates an emotional anchor. It lets you experience the wide gamut of emotions relative to that anchor. Why do people enjoy riding roller coasters? They enjoy the anticipation of the ups and downs relative to the anchoring fear of the massive drops. When you ride a roller coaster though, you understand that the fear is manufactured. You know it’s not real.

If you were floating through space endlessly, without an anchor and without reference points, it would get dreadfully boring. Variety is the spice of life. Anchors allow us to combat boredom and allow us to experience wide ranges of emotions.

So you may ask again: why do I fear? How do I conquer my fear?

My answer again, examine why you want to believe your fear is real. Beneath it all, you really do have good reasons to believe your fear is real.

You want to ride the roller coaster and believe the risk is truly real. At a certain point, riding the roller coaster knowing that the risk is not real gets old. It gets dry and stale. You want to push your limits and experience even wider ranges of emotions. And so you create a fear that feels more real. You weave a mischievous story of fear to deceive yourself so that you can feel more alive.

So you ask once more: why do I fear?

My answer: you fear so that you can feel alive.

You live to fear and you fear to live.