It’s a sunny day with a few flitting misty clouds overhead, just the right balance of white gray and sky blue. I am on a playground with my friends, and we are all about eight years old.
Julie, with wickedly dark hair and a mischievous grin, runs up to me, grabs both of my hands in hers, and we begin whirling in a circle on the grass… pulling hard on each other to stay connected as the force of our spinning drives us farther and farther apart. Finally, we are overpowered and explode to the ground, arms and legs flying in fits of giggles.
I lay there dizzily, staring at the shifting cloudshapes and calming my breath, thankful to have been caught up in the whirlwind of Julie for a moment; my lightness paired so well with her dark.
Later on, Julie’s darkness would seem to deepen, and I would continue to skim the surface. We drifted apart. I skated through school and my twenties with blonde hair, good grades, and the normal amount of malaise. I don’t know where Julie went, or if she is even still here at all.
I think back to life on the playground; the lessons from these childhood experiences continue to percolate.
As a modern-day Shaman, I see this dance between light and dark with new eyes. Having been through my own darkness, emerging shakily from the ashes of the life I thought I should want, I understand the value of the dark; in this case, we’ll call it “fear”.
Where would I be without having gone through my dark decade; the years that masqueraded as a perfect life? Who would I be now had I not truly felt afraid of walking into the unknown? Where would any of my clients be without the anxiety, illness, despair, trauma, or other forms of soul loss that propels them to seek help?
Courage needs fear to exist.
Without fear, we would not be asked to be brave. There would be no edges. The world would, once again, be flat. Life would be grayer than the clouds I still sometimes watch.
In trying to avoid or conquer fear, we are short-circuiting our ability to fully love.
It seems counterintuitive, especially in light of most popular spiritual opinion on the matter. I may be among the very few raising our hands and saying, “But….?”
But, I see human life as a natural system – functioning just like any other ecosystem in nature. In nature, there is no waste. All decay, darkness, and death is a necessary precursor to new life. Without death, life wouldn’t have the nourishment it needs to be born… there would be stagnation, the reverse of the big bang… a suctioned black hole airless vacuum of non-existence.
In other words, Love and Fear are very necessary dance partners in this crazy ride.
They are holding hands, spinning in an infinite loop, needing the tension of their opposition to keep them together. The universe is full of dances like this: fire and water, earth and air, man and woman, birth and death, in and out, sun and moon, everything and nothing…
So, when you feel afraid, please don’t add self-judgement to the pile.
Your fear, in those moments, is helping to hold your little universe together. What happens when you regard your own fear, your cowardice, your judgement, your smallness with the compassionate, dispassionate eye of nature?
You release into it. It transmutes. You love a little harder. You smile with a little more truth. The light behind your eyes is a little more magnetic.
It happens when you look at others’ fear, cowardice, judgement, smallness, hatred, and otherwise “low-vibe” behavior like this, too.
Your fear brings you back to your animal roots… it makes you human. And, in my opinion, being human is a beautiful, sacred thing.
Love into fear into love into fear into love. There are no winners and losers here, it’s not a game. It’s a dance.
I don’t know about you, but I believe that this life was made to dance through.
Love your fear. It’s the only way to keep the dance going.
Photo cc by Nathan Gemsling