Words, Stories, and the Facing of Fear.

Words.

Sometimes I think words are the most dangerous thing in the Universe, and depending on how you look at it, it can even be said that the Universe itself is composed of words. It has been an idea in the back of my mind for over a decade now, that perhaps music is what Universes are made of, but I’m more inclined to think that perhaps it is words, and perhaps music. I suppose it could almost be said that the Universe is a song, for those who have the ears to hear it.

In my stories, the stars are beings, and if they desire, they may take on human form and walk amongst us. And while these may just be stories in my heart, there is still lessons to be learned from them.

It is these stories, and the naming of her, that brought about an appreciation for Cymbeline, known to most people as the Sun. Her name is Cymbeline, and I find bright days so much more bearable for knowing her name, and her nature, than I did before that discovery. It is a small example of how the stories in my heart have had an impact on my life in this world.

You have to understand that for years I found the Sun to be too bright, and too hot, and would shun it. But the love for something overcomes all such things, and once I named her, I found I could tolerate her brightness much more than I used to be able to.

It is merely the power of words, the Sun hasn’t changed, and physically speaking, I haven’t changed either. But the words used have. I created a story for something I found difficult to tolerate, and in turn, loved her for it. Cymbeline, dear Cymbeline, the beloved Star of the Solar System.

If I had to describe her personality, it would be difficult, but I shall try to attempt it. She is bright and energetic, but also very sad. In many ways she reminds me quite strongly of Miss Marianne Dashwood, from Jane Austen’s Sense & Sensibility. The same passion and the same sorrow.

Stories are beautiful, even if they are stories in our hearts, they are still stories, and they still help us, and in many ways they make a real world more real than if we had to do without them. They force us to escape our narrow little view of the world, and imagine a better one.

If I find I am feeling inclined to hate someone, I find if I write a story in which they are someone wonderful, it does have an impact on how I see them, and in almost all cases, hate is in the eye of the beholder. If I hate someone, it is my responsibility to change that, not theirs. If I have to imagine better to do it, then so be it. It gives me something to hope for, and allows me to hold them in a place of compassion and love, as opposed to hate. By writing them a story I am essentially launching an offensive, not against them, but at my own hatred. This is the power of story. This is how I manage to remain calm even when I’m around those who if I did not have this, I would probably hate. The hurt is real, the pain, is real. But that doesn’t justify hatred, the only thing it justifies is the desire for redemption. Redemption is all that I have to hope for. I may not like a person, but I pray I never find myself in a place where I think of a person that they could not be better. It is, I suppose a method for destroying bitterness, but it works for me, to use art, in a sense, as a weapon against the darkness in my own heart. My heart is central. I cannot control the circumstances of life, but I can control my heart. I can choose to forgive, even if forgiveness isn’t asked for, or no apology has been given. The danger is in the disappointment, if we forget that the person and the story are not the same. Nevertheless, I do find I can tolerate, even if I don’t particularly like, a person.

It is not only my stories that have transformed me. The stories of others have shaped me, much of what I am, I am because of the stories of another. Time and time again I can trace back the decisions I’ve made, the interest I’ve developed, and so forth, to a story. I would never have started writing my own stories without having known about the stories of others, and their power to create change in me. I find delight every time I notice that a story has changed me into a better person, or has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me.

One example of a story that has had a huge impact on me was the book Divergent by Veronica Roth. A delightful book that brought to my attention the concept of fighting fear. Since then I’ve found myself becoming increasingly aware of how much I’ve let fear hold me back from good things. I’m still trying to decide if all fear is an evil, or if some fear is useful for the sake of preservation, but I do not desire to fear anything. I am still, nevertheless, quite afraid of a lot of things, but reading Divergent was a turning point from where I was before and I see a great deal of improvement since I became conscious of the problem, and the desire was awoken in me to improve it. I adore courage, bravery, and even fearlessness. I strongly suspect that I would be of The Dauntless, if I was part of that particular universe. An example of things I am afraid of? Posting this. This entire post is a post about the power of words, and to post it means I’m sending forth words, words are powerful, they hold influence. Even though I do not desire to be, I’m still strongly fearful of what it is that people think about me. I know this is a fear is built upon another fear, one of what I suspect is what I call a ‘root fear’ in me. That fear? Rejection. The idea of being rejected is probably one of my deepest fears. Thus, I fear to take a stand for something I believe in, or to share an idea, because the thought of rejection is terrifying. The reality is that rejection does happen, but that doesn’t mean I should be afraid of it. In my mind I tell myself that ‘these people are too important to me’ ‘I don’t want to lose them for an idea’ and so forth. But if I’m not being me, am I being entirely honest? If anything I would think it shows a lack of trust in others, so I present to them someone I’m not.

This very blog is an attempt to fight that particular part of me. Not so much for this blog’s sake, though that might be a part of the story, but because if I’m ever going to do greater things, I’ve got to face the darkness, and the darkness that I see for me is the fear of rejection, and other such fears.

Another fear I hold is the fear of allowing others to know what I am, what I’m thinking, and so forth. I suppose it is the fear of intimacy, and no matter how we speak of the term, it is something I fear. I fear opening my heart to people, so I try to be superficial, detached, and closed. So, I shut myself down, becoming something of inward-centered being, a creature so withdrawn within myself that I cease to hold a healthy view of the world around me. This is not good, and I know exactly what it stems from, fear of familiarity. It’s not so much that I’m shy as I’m so trapped within myself that I feel as though I cannot ever escape it, even to offer something other than a detached ‘Hello’ to those around me. This is not good. It is a self-built prison that does more to destroy me than protect me.

Knowledge alone is not strong enough to defeat it. Knowing what the problem is doesn’t fix it. I know I’m afraid of rejection, and of intimacy, and so forth. But knowing that, does nothing to defeat it.

Much of the world operates on fear, but that doesn’t make it right. Fear is my enemy, and I do not think myself alone in that. So the question is, what do I do to break the chains of fear in me?

One way, is to just force myself to do things even though I am afraid of them. For example, actually posting this, instead of doing what I did with the last five post I’ve written up and making them private. Another way, is to find things that combat these particular fears. It is needed.

Like with the Sun, this is another place where the stories I hold in my heart have helped, rather than hindered me, but I suppose stories can also create fear, if they are not the right kind of stories. I do not desire to heed things that fuel fears rather than helping me to overcome them.

That all said, I tend to view life itself as a story, and I am often curious at what the story will look like as a whole. Which always brings to my mind yet another fear, which is the fear of insignificance  That I’ll simply be forgotten. You are born, you breathe, you live, you die, you are buried, if you’re fortunate you get a little stone with your name on it, that might be around for a few hundred years, visited only by a few, and then completely forgotten as the stone itself wears away, and you are left buried, nameless and forgotten. Insignificant.

Curiously, it is fear itself that is the greatest thing making me someone of no significance. It is a self-fulfilling fear, if you will. For the most part, those who are remembered are those who stood for something. Remembrance belongs to the overcomer, not the coward. I do not want to be a forgotten coward. Now, I don’t exactly know what to say of those who are remembered for the evil deeds they did. I can’t exactly say that they are better men than I for having taken a stand for something wrong. I don’t want to be remembered for the wrong things either. Nevertheless, I think there is a part of me that desires to be remembered, and the idea of being forgotten, is an intolerable one to me, but perhaps it is my fate to be forgotten, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t stand for what it is that I believe, love those who I love, live life fully. Even if I am forgotten, I should make the best of it as I can. Be content, even if in the end, I am buried and forgotten, once I am dead. Death happens, it’s a fact. I can assume I will one day be dead. But I don’t know if I want to waste my entire life away in fear of the fact that one day I am going to be a dead man. Today I am alive, what am I going to do with my life today? That is the question I need to ask myself. Yes, I acknowledge my death as something that will, most likely, take place at some point in the future, whether it be in a few days, tragedies happen all the time, there is no guarantee that a trip to the grocery store this coming Thursday means a return, or in five hundred years, though I’m not exactly expecting to live that long. Not entirely sure I’d want to, it is a sad sort of world, this place. It’s like a big, empty, house, with lots of cold, dark, rooms. Where is everyone? The older I get, the more I expect this world to feel like a big, empty, house, with more rooms having been discovered, and always, there is a sadness to them. Five hundred years in this sort of place, beautiful in places, but for the most part, a sad, empty, sort of place, I do not know if I could desire that. The fact is, I will die. But, there is today. Life is today. What am I going to do? Live in fear of what may come, or even that which I know is to be, my death? On the other hand, I cannot say fully that I ever will truly die. In many ways, it can even be said that I am already dead. It depends upon how you look at it. My life already is upon me. All the more reason to live today. You hear people say that we should live each day as if it is our last. Perhaps it would be better to say that we should live each day as if it is our first. For me, fear is an obstacle to that, telling me to live it as though it is my last, but I am a new creation, I need not fear my last day, it is already come and gone, I have already faced that day. I am of the redeemed, which means I am alive, and alive forevermore. I need to live as though it is my first day, and not fear the day that has already come, and has already gone. Yes, I know, I said above, death comes, in the future, and in a sense I suppose it is true, I should seem dead in the future, but I shall never truly face a death that is true, that death has already occurred in me, it is finished. I am no longer bound by a true death. My future, that which seems to be my death is to at last become more fully alive than I ever was. I do not need to fear death. Take that, ye old zombie self.

So why do I fear rejection, openness, and so forth? I mean seriously, I do not need to be afraid of dying, so why am I afraid of the little things? It is foolish for me to be that way. If I am alive, I should live the life of the living, and not live as though I am dead.

It is why I put up little things to remind myself that I do not need to be afraid. I’ve written on my computer monitor, an object that I do tend to stare at quite frequently: “I need not fear anything” to remind myself that I really do not need to live a life of fear.