I Am More Afraid than I Let On.

Via on Oct 2, 2013


Aren’t you?

It is useful (and frankly, more fun) to maintain a brave face, and truly there are many layers of my being through which you can sift and discover nothing but love and gratitude and actual happiness.

And yet within these layers, great fears do lurk.

This fear is insidious and seemingly impossible to extract. It attacks my fundamental, heartfelt goodness with paranoid delusion and self-aggrandizing put-downs.

It drags me back and forth, showing me how I might be everything before banishing me to nothingness and I am left beaten, bruised, begging it to stop and it does, it does—just as soon as I’ve given entirely in, relinquished any lingering dignity and confessed to the essential inadequacy that is “this little me.”

I am afraid that I’ve never once pulled my own weight, that despite my best efforts, my very existence is a drag on the system.

Everyone else is so capable, and their consistency of effort is what creates the space for my laziness. I would like to help, in theory, but since I neglected, until now, to even notice that there was work to be done, I don’t know how, and thus my presence is more in-the-way than helpful. Therefore I will continue doing nothing. I believe I’ll have a beer in the meantime.

Sure, I have my moments. There are instances when I somehow stumble into a position of apparent usefulness, but I’m afraid that isn’t enough to make up for all the downtime in between. There are only seven sins and sloth is definitely one of them.

Sloth is a symptom of selfishness. I’m afraid I’m not as generous as I imagine.

I am afraid that it is actually possible to fall short—to fail and be finally defeated.

There is such a thing as unhappy endings. Things go wrong and don’t get fixed. Last-second redemption is exceedingly rare. People die in vain everyday. The thought of this terrifies me. Is that what it means for the terrorists to win?

All my friends, family and everyone I’ve ever met are fundamentally good-hearted people seeking peace and fulfillment, and yet bombs go off, cars explode, and flying robots rain down death upon the innocent.

Atomic War Cover

I am afraid the terrorists are not who we think they are.

I am afraid of being trapped. Stories of the 1973 U.S.-sponsored coup in Chile provoke in me waking nightmares. Practically overnight, people went from living in a democracy to being herded to their mass murder in Santiago’s national stadium.

What is there to prevent such horrific scenes being replayed today? Precious little, I’m afraid.

I am most afraid of those who tell me how afraid I need to be. They typically wear tailored suits and accept grandiose, undocumented campaign donations. I’m afraid these criminals have conspired to erode our democratic republic and establish a government of, by and for international banks and corporations. Such a system is better known as fascism.

I’m afraid we won’t wake up in time. I’m afraid the good guys aren’t getting enough help. It is scary not to know who the good guys are. There are those who sew confusion, and it takes great discernment to know who is authentic, and who is disingenuous. With all the spinning disinformation, I’m afraid I’ll get turned around and unwittingly help the oppressors.

I am afraid I’ve been misled. I am afraid that my basic, loving trust and hopefulness can be manipulated into dangerous naiveté leading to ultimate betrayal. Have we, as a nation, been sold out? Am I complicit in the undermining of our fundamental rights and freedoms? How did this happen? I had nothing but the best intentions, but again, I’m afraid that’s not quite good enough.

I am afraid nothing is as it seems. I am afraid that everything is exactly as it seems!

I’m afraid all this makes me a paranoid delusional schizophrenic. I’m afraid I’m all alone in this.

Sound Familiar?

I am petrified of fracking.

I am afraid of the vast impersonal power wielded over the population by corporations unbound by any moral law. I am afraid of those who are willing to violently impose policies that promote profits over people. I am very afraid that there are many people who are profoundly disconnected from their sense of a shared humanity, who suppress their natural compassion in pursuit of a stable paycheck.

I am afraid that evil is more rife now than ever before. Can that be true? Does anyone else notice how awfully evil it feels on this planet right now, precious as she is?

I’m afraid I’m too sensitive, too delicate, and therefore too weak to do anything to counteract all that I fear.

Are we more evil than before? Or are we only now noticing how badly we’ve behaved? Is evil greater? Or is it only our awareness that is growing, showing us things where we’d never dared look before?

Oh God, good thing goodness is exponential.

YouTube Preview Image

I am afraid of those who are Oh So Sure that anything is exactly as they believe it to be.

I am afraid of myself when, upon reflection, I see that I am one of these people who need so dearly to believe that what I believe is correct and others are just temporarily mistaken, confused until I can find the language to properly explain everything.

I’m afraid this language doesn’t exist.

FEAR:  THE DEADLY SUBURBS...tonight at 11

I am afraid of people who don’t seem to be thinking for themselves, of people who operate primarily on pre-programmed, knee-jerk reactions. I am afraid a mob of these zombies will turn me in to the thought police for having extravagant ideas about freedom and worse, wielding the subversive vocabulary to express these wild ideas precisely.

Mostly, I am afraid that I may be incapable of fulfilling my personal potential, and afraid that this failure will have disastrous repercussions for our world. I’m afraid of big opportunities squandered due to minor miscalculations. I’m afraid even my best contributions are futile. I’m afraid my failures are meaningless and will go unnoticed.

But, in spite of all that, I am not afraid to pretend I’m not afraid.

In fact, I am becoming less and less afraid of feeling afraid. I am more and more comfortable with the discomfort of engaging directly with my many fears.

I’ve tried ignoring them, and that doesn’t work, for then they fester barely out of sight like some nasty tumor. Engaging with the fear merely feeds it; pushing back only escalates the fight, and more fighting is just cause for more fear.

As I become more comfortable, I am able to observe my fears without engaging. I say,

“Hello Fear, what shape are you taking today? Oh yeah? That’s interesting, sort of, but moving on, I’ve got lots of uplifting shit to do, so if you could please quiet down, that’d be greatly appreciated. Thanks.”

Fear is a strait jacket on a sane man. His squirming, desperate struggle to escape only confirms to an observer the need for his restraint.

Ultimately, release is available only through acceptance. Only calm abiding can convince the witness that these restraints no longer serve the person entangled within.

He will watch with blissful disbelief as his diligent surrender dissolves the ties that bind him. And the best is yet to come when he meets the gleeful welcoming party awaiting him beyond the shadowy walls which have limited his vision for so very long. The witness, previously perceived as the source of his torture, is revealed to be best friend and brother, true family who was anxiously awaiting the time when he would realize he could breathe, relax and be free.

There will be bafflement when he looks back to see that his confines were in fact quite illusory, an apparently impenetrable fortress perfectly permeable at any chosen moment. Like an adult who remembers the monstrous hill down which he would ride his bicycle, he’ll revisit his old neighborhood to see it’s nothing but a gentle little downslope.

Oh well. Now he knows.

Lastly, I am afraid this article won’t be well received, or worse…won’t get read at all. However, I’ve accepted that fear and published it anyway. Please accept this opening for what it is—a partial list.

We can help transmute and transcend the many fears we all encounter by directing the light of your attention in their direction. Fear is known to disappear in the light of loving-awareness.

YouTube Preview Image

What are you afraid of? How do you cope? How do you make use of your fear? Please share.


Like elephant journal on Facebook.

Ed: Cat Beekmans

About David McConaghay

David Telfer McConaghay was conceived in Toronto, born in North Carolina, and lived in Washington D.C. and Tokyo before arriving in Minneapolis at the age of 8. At 16 he moved to Connecticut, and has since inhabited D.C. for four more years, an island in Wisconsin, an ashram in Northern California, a national park in Maine, and taught English in Guadalajara, Mexico, and Bogota, Colombia before landing in Boulder, Colorado at the start of 2011. He loves all humans, but feels unique fondness for Jorge Luis Borges, Swami Sivananda, and Lionel Messi. David's personal website is www.masteringmetaphysics.com. He is an ambassador for GaiamTV.com/Dave and you are invited to email ElephantGentleman at gmail dot com or follow him on Twitter.



14 Responses to “I Am More Afraid than I Let On.”

  1. love you brother – you aren't 'afraid', you're 'awake and aware' and that bears an emotional toil…. be well, find joy, create good, leave things better!

  2. idunno-omg says:

    what meds are you on? not being rude, being serious. b/c i feel this way almost totally. ughhh… i am a) very relieved to find another tortured soul, and b) now what to do about it? what do you do about being this way.??? i need to pick myself up from a particularly drawn out low.. i have heaps to look forward to and waiting for me, and yet i am so down in despair my animals are not taken care of, let alone myself, i am a hermit, i dread seeing others i am hiding, i need to clean my house so badly and i cannot bring myself to do shit… i even have the ability to hire someone to help me but i am too ashamed to even let a stranger in my my current mess-of-a-life. what do you do to force yourself up from a serious lengthy bit of depression? i am open to drugs. like i am open to anything. also things like knowing more about "what kind of person" behaviour like this says i am? what is my label i guess. oh Lord….

  3. Ben Neal bneal817 says:

    I get it, I dig it, I feel you. You're definitely not alone, my friend. I'm afraid there are precious few of us, but the numbers are growing all the time.

    ~ Ben

  4. nunh says:

    I dig your article – I have issues with fear and anxiousness. Yoga helps me greatly. Engaging in my fears helps me most of all but, I am afraid to do so at times.

  5. Mark says:

    After several years of walking in your shoes, so to speak, I became suicidal. It was at the lowest point when death seemed like the best option, I discovered a new level of freedom. When you have given up everything but the bullet in your ear then you may discover those things that weighed you down were illusions you never needed. It's miserable death and life or saying screw it and just letting it go. The decision for me was to just love the person in front of me. The terrible dream may come true five minutes from now but, there ain't a damn thing I can do to change that by stressing over it. Plus, negative attracts negative as positive attracts positive. I'm old enough now to look back at the years I wasted waiting for the world to change to bring me peace and joy. The fact is, those years were actually pretty good. I just missed a lot of it. Two of the best words to use when you're fearful is: "Fuck It!"

  6. Lorraine says:

    David, I want to say much more than thanks, but it's all been said. Or maybe they didn't say it all, but I inferred it all! Or maybe you just reminded me that I am — most of us are — actually ready for what's next. So thanks.

Leave a Reply