There are different kinds of fear. It seems silly to be on earth nearly five decades, and only just now figuring this out. Maybe it's confusing because the different fears feel the same in the body. Or ... nearly the same. Fears all sound to the inner ear like the same word, only with different accents - the same songs in other keys. Something like that. They all feel the same. But they are not all the same.
There is a fear that says, "Don't go in there! Didn't you see? The Monster went in there! The music! No! Listen! The scary music is starting! Don't go in there!" When we refuse to listen to that fear, blundering ahead like some bubble-headed starlet doomed to be axed or stabbed or otherwise gruesomely rewarded for her whatevershedid, then we are always sorry afterward.
But not all fears are like that. Stage fright - not like that. Stage fright has all the adrenaline of the first one, but the realities are utterly different. It is possible to recover from disastrous performances, for one thing. (Fatal stabbings aren't like that.) And for another thing, nervous energy can be channeled into useful energy.
And then there's fear of the Known. Fear of the Unknown is one thing, but fear of the known ... facing that fear takes a different kind of courage.
That's where I am right this minute. I've just scheduled my winter courses, and I'm going to be in the deep end of my major's ocean. No more playing about. This is real. And I know how much work, and how much stripping away of old thinking, and how much vulnerability there is in doing anything this real. The author of Writing Begins With the Breath teaches truly that the reason for writer's block is that the real writing lives in the same dungeon as your very own demons. And there's no way to exorcise the beasts without going in there. The beasts hold the treasure. And I can hear the music rising.
This is the fear screaming, "Don't go in there!" while meaning, "What if I screw up in front of everybody? What if I can't do it? What if I'm not that good? .... What if I am?" But the fear factors are actually leading to everything that is most real and true and right and good. This is a fear of the Known. Of being Known.
Foretaste of Heaven and taste of blood in the mouth here on earth, all wrapped into one big vocational adrenaline spike. "Then I shall know even as also I am known."
But I know how the story goes now. Five decades (almost) into this life, and I know now. See ... I had three babies. The first one taught me how to work. The second one taught me to conquer the fear of the Known. And the third one taught me to "allow" --- To allow is better than to force. To accept is better than to resist.
But I still feel like a professional bungee jumper who is chronically afraid of heights.