To the question “What are you afraid of?” lots of common responses pop into our minds.  Heights. Snakes. Spiders. Confined spaces.  Those fears are easy to define, and easy to write off as things we can avoid to keep that fear at bay.  Just don’t climb mountains, or live where there are snakes, and get a pest control service, and, yeah, I don’t do elevators or spelunking.  Ok.  But how about that next set of fears? You know, the ones that creep up on you unannounced and you’ve become so used to that you sort of just accept them as part of life?  It is one of these fears that made itself known to me as I journeyed across the country several days ago.

Let’s back up a little bit.  I live in San Antonio, Texas, which is usually a very sunny, yang-intensive sort of place.  I needed a bit of a break and so I hugged hubby goodbye (he is not a fan of long road trips) and headed across the country to Duluth, Minnesota.  I love Lake Superior, you see, and needed a good solid dose of its massive yin energy.  Mind you, I had very little agenda, an open return date, and no appointments calling to me.  Nothing but 9-10 days of doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.  Wonderful!  Freedom!  No worries!

EXCEPT…that I found myself fearing being late.  Running behind.  Watching the clock as I ate what should have been a relaxing dinner after a 10-hour drive because I needed to get back to the hotel.  Because, why?  Nobody waiting for me. I could choose my own bedtime.  Didn’t need to leave particularly early the next morning.  It was 8:00 p.m. so not exactly late.  “Better get going.” Blah blah blah went my deeply entrenched sense of needing to be on time for the next thing.  Afraid of being in trouble, or making someone wait, or not being somewhere at the exact time I suggested, or of otherwise not meeting expectations.  Even when there were no expectations set by any sort of outside force whatsoever.

I’ll cut myself a break as this was just day one and I was still in the go-go-go mode of everyday life.  But, still. Throughout the entire trip I found that I needed to remind myself that I could not possibly be late for anything. That whatever I was doing at the moment was enough, and that the world was going to survive just fine if I lingered.  If I bought that second cup of coffee.  If I slept in, or took a wrong turn, or decided not to write a blog post but instead sit in front of my cabin window and look at the foggy lake, the world would keep turning.

So, what is the real fear here?  Does it come from a sense of self-importance?  Maybe.  Feeling that somehow “it” all hinges on our behavior at a particular moment so we’d better do it right.  Is it a giving over of our own needs to some arbitrary outside demand?  Perhaps.  Or maybe we’re just human beings trying to find balance between our child-like worldview wherein we simply enjoy the moment, and the call of the demands we’ve allowed into our lives. To live our intrepid and audacious lives, we need to be kind to ourselves and simply pat our faithful fears on the head and say “there, there.”  After all, these fears are simply looking out for us, and with a little guidance they can become our allies.

What fears do you live with daily?  How do you care for them?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.