Op-Ed
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Op-Ed

Alone in Good Company

Fear seems to be a useless term sometimes because it can be applied to so many different feelings I experience. My sense is that what I describe to be fear is many different emotions.

One of my biggest fears is being alone. Not in the modern sense of not having a partner or friends, but truly being alone. Isolated, with no one around and having to rely on myself to provide. Me against the elements and any predator that might find me to be a delicious looking meal. I also fear the dark. Not the dark itself, but what’s in it and what I can’t know. I’m afraid of being frightened all of a sudden. I’m also afraid of letting people down but this is more about the anxiety of how I’ll be received. Will my inconsistency render me useless to people I care about? Will this cause them to no longer want to help me in the future?

Yet, there are some things that a lot of people are afraid of that I find to be invigorating. For instance, I love roller coasters. I smiled the entire descent when I went skydiving. I’ve convinced myself that if a large enough number of people have done something, I am less likely to be afraid. This is actually how I am able to calm myself before doing something incredibly risky. I just remind myself “So many people have done this, there is no reason why I shouldn’t”. Even before ingesting psychedelics, such as DMT, I’d consciously remember that it was only momentary and I’d come back just like all the rest before me.

What I’m starting to realize is that some of my greatest fears remain in the thought realm. In fact, I think I could argue most of my fears are only my imagination operating to protect me, but in a somewhat overbearing way at times. I purposely prevent my mind from wandering to places that might cause me deep distress or worse… insanity. I am afraid of losing the ability to guide the wandering. There are times when I’ve allowed my brain to go places where I have expressly told it not to, like the atrocities of our human history, or to the realm of evil spirits. I’m not trained to cast protection spells and with no one serving as a guide, I am physically affected by the fear; it no longer hides inside of me. I’m exposed and it becomes real. It surfaces and takes hold of me.

This is why I find solace in connection with others. If I trust them, I can be sure that they will confirm what is and isn’t real. Its very possible that the greatest fear I have is that things will not follow the pattern I’ve grown accustomed to. The unfamiliarity invokes an activated state of improvisation, which seems to originate from a very authentic place. I can be sure that any group will have more mental resources than me by myself. So me by myself is still the question, am I capable? Do I have adequate training to spring into action when I need myself most? Even though I tend to like disruptive events, its usually in the moment when I’m able to have that discovery and usually only after I’ve successfully stepped up to the plate.

So what if I say, “I’m not afraid”. Then I’d be telling a lie. But if I am actively participating in every moment instead of considering how I feel… well that’s no good either. Surely there are reasons I feel certain ways and sometimes I even like the way I feel. Its a constant practice of checking in with myself and then asking the greater self is that’s right. That sounds exhausting but having company along the way is what makes it bearable and ultimately worth it. Sharing in this experience is where the magic lies and relating that with the experience of others allows my fears to subside because I know I’m not alone. It doesn’t make the fears go away but there’s something there…

Originally written in Collective Journaling at The Stoa

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