Twice this week, as I’ve been walking my dogs in the early morning, I’ve found my thoughts circling back to this lingering feeling inside of me, this feeling of dissonance, of unrest, of… something. Trying to locate the source of my feeling or just feel it through, I realized that I am filled with fear. I feel so afraid, in my body, in a fight-or-flight kind of way. I feel it in my muscles that are frequently tense, my frozen shoulders, the way I protect my heart so much the muscles in my chest are chronically sore. I feel it in my belly, and in the way I am flooded with immediate relief when even for a few moments I get to do nothing.
I feel afraid. But… of what?
A teacher recently told me that he thinks “F.E.A.R.” stands for two different things—“fuck everything and run” or “false evidence appearing real.” Well—the first one is definitely what I’ve been feeling lately—this urge to just GO!, flee, throw all responsibility to the wind and fly away on some blue fantasy. The second is more true, getting beyond the knee-jerk reaction to maybe alight on where this feeling is coming from. But then, again walking this morning, a different definition of F.E.A.R. occurred to me, as I navigate what is happening in my soul: Face Everything And Rise. Ah. Yes, there it is.
Lately, much is changing in my life and I feel as if I’m standing on the brink of flight. There is the life I have known, gradually fading into the distance behind me. In front of me is a huge chasm (where all the fear lurks) and beyond is the unknown, the not-yet, the something-that-can-be but which has no shape or color or definition yet. I know I need to go there yet first I have to leap over, around… through?… this fear, this facing of everything. And as things so often happen in my life (“trust the converging circles of the universe” another wise teacher once told me) I read this over breakfast this morning:
“Living long enough, we each find ourselves surrounded by an old way of being, thinking, or loving that is going up in flames. In that unexpected moment, we usually find ourselves full of fear, feeling trapped by an old way of life coming in on us. But this is the passage of rebirth that we must move through if our lives are to unfold. It is the momentary and painful crossing from what is old into what is new.” (That is from the amazing Mark Nepo, in his book, “The Book of Awakening.”)
I know in my bones this is true—the old is knocking on my door, grabbing at my ankles, while the new keeps trying to break through. The birthing is happening, and I am resisting. The Midwife of my Soul is saying—breathe Erin, ease up, trust this Force, this movement that is bringing to birth your life. She looks deep into my eyes and there is so much love. She asks me—how can you love all of this, all of this, more?? How can you let Me love You, in this?
In my stubbornness and pride, I realize, I am trying to control this process of Life. I am putting limits on what can happen, and when. Yet Life moves and Breathes and has Her being in me, always drawing me into greater and deeper wholeness; She is birthing me, and all of life, toward Her wholeness. She keeps asking me to Dance, the one Dance that matters most—of Life, of Becoming, of Love.