Friday, 28 September 2018

[ the great unknown ]

Someone once asked me what I was afraid of in life. We were doing that getting-to-know-each-other thing and asking all the standard heavy questions you throw out to attain depth without shared history.

There are very few things of which I am afraid, and we've talked about this before. I fear the unknown, the lack of information, the aimlessness in direction. I fear not knowing at least some of the details, at least the shape of the picture, even if the rest is hazy.

Most people are the same; they find they can cope with a reasonable amount of life being weird and surprising, throwing strange obstacles in your path at any given time. But they do like to know the path they are on, and where it most likely leads.

The fewer specifics, the more anxious we become. Moreso, the further you travel along the unknown highway, as it were. You lose track of why you're doing what you're doing, why you are where you are. Your fear starts to consume you, colouring everything you do.

When we are afraid, it's always important to seek answers. Chase down leads, search for clues, find out anything you can about your worries.

So it's with some embarrassment that I admit to having been in a holding pattern for months. I've been quietly beavering away at really nothing much. And we all know I don't really do embarrassment. 

Then what gives? What made me spend two months taking meds I didn't need, eating things I didn't like, and taking precautions that saved me nothing?

Fear. Obviously. 

Fear made me weak and stupid, and narrowed my vision to near-constant strain and misery. It does that, because that's what fear is good at; focus. 

Oddly enough, that's where the penny drops. At least it did for me. 

There comes a point when you realise how focused you are on something, how much of your time you're devoting to it - and how little to other things. Happy things, pleasurable things, anything other than your pain. 

Somehow, the intensity of your scrutiny brings alternatives into stark reality; I can't go here, I'm too unwell. I can't eat that, the doctors said so. It can't be anything else, because...

Wait. Why can't it be anything else? If nothing I'm doing now is working, surely I should try something else?

Why can't I eat that? I've eaten it my whole life, and there's no evidence it's going to make me sick now. 

Why can't I go there? No one said I couldn't. No one gave me a reason why. 

When all you do is fear the change, the change may never come. When all you do is focus on the solution, you lose sight of the steps to get there. 

When all you do is listen, you never get answers to your questions. 

Asking questions isn't suddenly going to make you well. It isn't going to make you happy, or rich. It doesn't make the fear go away. But it arms you against it, and gives you weapons to fight it later, tomorrow, next week. Next month. 

Stop treating yourself like a fool and taking your instincts for granted, they're there for a reason. Start wondering if there's a different path, a different way, another solution. 

Maybe there is - and maybe there's not. But won't you sleep better at night finding out? 



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