(This is the second post on the theme of fear from day 17 of writing 101.)
I have a reoccurring anxiety that one day I’ll arrive home, put the key in the lock and suddenly realise that it’s not my flat and I can’t remember where I live. I’ve had it for years, and it always happens as I’m walking through the door to my building and up the stairs to my front door, and hoping that my fear hasn’t come true. It’s completely illogical and I’ve no idea where it came from, but I think it’s a manifestation of the fact that I’m afraid of losing my mind. Again, there’s no evidence to suggest I might do; no history in the family that I’m aware of. I’ve had depression in the past, but dealt with it on my yoga mat and by talking things through. Yet there’s still this random worry that within the constantly swirling flux of thoughts inside my head, I’ll lose the ability to control what’s within.
My other great fear is one many share, and that’s death. Not the actual process itself as such, provided it’s a painless demise of course, but the non-existence which it will entail. The separation from all I love, forever. I’m not religious, and long ago decided that the whole concept of an afterlife just doesn’t ring true for me, so I guess I have little to look forward to. Yet I’m also aware that I’m not meant to stay. I won’t belong here in a hundred years from now, my time will have passed.
You’d think that this would make me a fearless consumer of all life’s offerings, but the opposite is true. I’ve always been anxious about the unknown; new people and places. However, I was incredibly shy when younger, so that didn’t help either. I can manage this anxiety though, and have challenged myself more often over the years to try and welcome the unfamiliar rather than run a mile from it.
Yet both of these fears have also had their benefits. I notice so much more of what’s around me. I try to absorb everything; the blossom on the trees as I walk home from the shops, the stars on a clear, cold Winter’s night, the funny observations make students make in class. All of it, everything, I try to cram as much into my head as I can, almost as though I’m storing them up for some purpose later on. The irony is, I don’t have a particularly good memory, but at least I enjoy these little moments at the time.
I guess with all fears, there comes a point when you have to look them in the eye and say ‘you won’t win you know.’ ‘You won’t beat me. I will overcome this and be stronger.’ Every day, we all struggle with our fears, both big and small, and we have to keep pushing back at them, and not allow ourselves to be knocked down, unable to get back up.