The Greatest Fear of All
What's your greatest fear?
People are not just frightened, but genuinely fearful of the most amazing things. Things like the following:
- Anglophobia- Fear of England or English culture.
- Deipnophobia- Fear of dining or dinner conversations.
- Ephebiphobia- Fear of teenagers.
- Hellenologophobia- Fear of Greek terms or complex scientific terminology.
- Metrophobia- Fear of poetry.
- Sinistrophobia- Fear of things to the left or left-handed.
- Zemmiphobia- Fear of the great mole rat.
I'm not making that last one up. Google it.
Of course there are many, many, many more. We all know (and possibly even share) some of the more common ones. Fear of the dark. Fear of loud noises. Fear of enclosed spaces. Fear of spiders. Fear of clowns. However, I don't think we'd necessarily count these as the real biggies, those fears that, if we give any real consideration to, whatsoever, we'll end up losing sleep over.
You know the ones I'm talking about.
Fear of ridicule.
Fear of pain.
Fear of death.
Fear of insanity.
Fear of insignificance.
You might even share what, up until recently, would have been my answer to this post's leading question.
Fear of failure.
So, what happened recently that caused this to stop being my greatest fear? Well, I'm glad you asked.
The simple answer is that I read a book, specifically The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (he wrote The Legend of Bagger Vance). It's a book about winning your inner creative battles, of which I have many, most of which I seem to lose. So, this book was helpful, helpful like a root canal or invasive surgery or a back-waxing is helpful.
In one particular chapter aptly entitled "Fear" Pressfield revealed to me the fact that failure was not my greatest fear. He accomplished this by making me aware of a greater, deeper fear I've held for who-knows-how long without even realizing it. After listing out more of our very real, deep-seeded fears than I have here, he wrote the following on pp. 142-143.
These are serious fears. But they're not the real fear. Not the Master Fear, the Mother of all Fears that's so close to us that even when we verbalize it we don't believe it.
Fear That We Will Succeed.
That we can access the powers we secretly know we possess.
That we can become the person we sense in our hearts we truly are.
This is the most terrifying prospect a human being can face, because it ejects him at one go (he imagines) from all the tribal inclusions his psyche is wired for and has been for fifty million years.
We fear discovering that we are more than we think we are. More than our parents/children/teachers think we are. We fear that we actually possess the talent that our still, small voice tells us. That we actually have the guts, the perseverance, the capacity. We fear that we truly can steer our ship, plant our flag, reach our Promised Land. We fear this because, if it's true, then we become estranged from all we know. We pass through a membrane. We become monsters and monstrous.
We know that if we embrace our ideals, we must prove worthy of them.
Pressfield closes out the chapter by asking the simple but loaded question, "Do you believe me?"
Now, if I'm honest, I have to admit that, in the time I've been mulling over this, I probably haven't run it through all of the Biblical and theological filters that I should. But, in answer to his question, I think I have to say, "Yes. Yes I do."
What about you?