I stood there on the sidewalk in the sun, terrified. Fear held one of my hands and freedom held my other. And that’s okay. They often walk together holding hands.
As children, they run and challenge each other; jumping across rooftops and climbing trees, they are scared but free to feel the wind in their hair. Then as teenagers, they form a kind of Shakespearean romance – they share a deep passion – each ready to die for the other because they begin to realize that they actually cannot exist without the other.
What is freedom if we never knew fear? How would we allow ourselves to be truly free if we don’t allow ourselves to accept fear, to hold fear’s tiny frail hand like that of a child’s and tell it, “It’s okay”? How can we even know courage if we’ve never known and overcome fear?
And so freedom and fear grow together. Like an old married couple they fight and pull apart, sometimes even separate and sleep on different shores. But they learn to accept each other for what they are. They learn to accept that somehow they will always coexist – and that’s okay. They’re grateful for one another, for the long roads they’ve walked together, learning who they are because of the other.
And it is this acceptance and gratitude reminding us that each feeling is purposeful – that whenever we reject a feeling, we essentially reject and abandon ourselves, that we essentially let go of the hand of a child.
No emotion is a bad emotion – it is just a matter of allowing ourselves to feel it, understand it and manage it so that we are not its slave. Fear is not a bad emotion. It can be the voice of upcoming danger and save us. It also shows us what courage and strength truly are if we decide to take on that challenge. Fear is trying to tell us something, maybe something we’ve closed our eyes and ears to for way too long. It is a sign of change, but change isn’t all bad. Any new experience and innovation begins with fear, and it is a powerful sign of evolving and growing.
Fear can be valuable. But it is up to us and our unshakeable belief in existence and ourselves to allow ourselves be aware of fearful feelings but not succumb to them. And in this realization, we are liberated.
So I stood there.
On the sidewalk in the sun.
Fear held my hand so tight that I had to hold it even tighter. So tight I had to let it go.
It stared at me and I stared at its staring.
Terrified, I told it, “It’s okay.
“Step by step, my feet will figure it out. I know you are scared, dear fear, and I am scared too. I’ll lead the way, I promise you; I’ll borrow your eyes so that I see pain before you and protect you. I know that sometimes my feet won’t know where we are going and maybe I’ll even forget how to walk sometimes. I don’t have all the answers; it is all unknown. But I promise you, we’ll figure it out along the way. But for now, I need to let you go. I need to let go of your hand.”
Even though freedom has become my second skin, it is fear I have to thank for that. I know we’ll meet again someday, dear fear. You’ll hold my hand tight and I’ll hold you even tighter – again – and I’ll tell you, “It’s okay.” I’ll remind you how we’ve walked these roads before, once upon a time on the sidewalk in the sun.
On the sidewalk in the sun, I’ll remind you that I love you too. Even when I am not holding your hand.