#AtoZChallenge: Fear


Friedrich Wilhelm Kuhnert [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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So we’ve been having fun with light topics during the A to Z Blogging Challenge here, but today lightness isn’t around. Lightness dissipated into a cold, nagging fear last night when the US — without the permission or knowledge of Congress — launched nearly 60 Tomahawk missiles into Syria.

We don’t know what will come next. Putin, who probably instigated the strike, is now talking action against the US, and is refusing to honor an agreement to reduce the risk of in-flight collisions with US planes. He’s been itching for WWIII for years, trying to provoke countries to act by buzzing their airspace and making big statements; last night, the man unsuited to the office of the presidency may have given him his opening.

A useful tool. A useful fool.

And we do not know what the price will be.

This is a new kind of fear for those of us nestled in the arrogant comfort of the US, a country that’s always interrupting and always “manspreading,” taking up as much space as possible. A country whose citizens are always jerks in TV shows from other English-speaking countries. A country largely untouched by its own global footprint.

We’re touched now.


Writing Through Fear


A Girl Writing; The Pet Goldfinch by Browne, Henriette (1829 – 1901) – painter (artist) Details of artist on Google Art Project [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


I think this painting is so beautiful, I left the image at full size.

Fear may be intangible, but it can keep you firmly in place. The concept is so ingrained it even comes with its own cliche: “Frozen in fear.”

And while it applies to approaching footsteps in echoey corridors and under-bed monsters and aliens descending from above, it also applies to writing. Sometimes what keeps us away from the page as writers is fear.

Fear of not having anything to say. Fear of saying it wrong, saying too much, not saying enough. Fear that the muse has taken a permanent vacation, never to be seen again, and inspiration, that delicate filament, is broken as surely and as permanently as a spiderweb.

Fear of failure.

Sometimes that fear is difficult to fight, and it manifests itself as a wedge between us and that blinking cursor. I’ve stared at it many times, my fingers at the ready over my keys, and yet something invisible blockades the route from idea to words.

Is it my own fear?


But here’s the thing about fear. In the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt:

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.

Or John Wayne’s pithier, Old Westernized version:

Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.

Or any of the other variations on the concept. Let’s think about it this way. Fear is kind of like a lifelong — but manageable — human illness. We have to learn to live with it and get on with things anyway.

Great advice, huh? Now if only I can take it…

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Self-Trust an Elusive Commodity


I’m not sure why it is that it’s so difficult for us to trust ourselves. Maybe that’s not true for everyone, maybe there are people who plunge ahead, confident and certain.

I’m not one of those people.

For me, the world is colored by what ifs, by endless probabilities, by the dark edges of choosing wrong. People like me waffle. We hesitate. We never rest comfortably in the conclusion of a choice, because that choice or that choice might have been better.

Behind us we can see the missteps and the wrong turns littering our paths, half-buried in the sand, but still visible enough to to glint accusingly. And we can’t help but wonder if forward lies more of the same.

If only there was faith in good solutions. Not perfect solutions. Good ones.