“There ain’t nothin scarier than real life. Stephen King ain’t got nothin on this.”
I’ve always been kind of a pansy.
There are plenty of examples that prove this:
I can’t watch The Ring because deep down a part of me is genuinely worried that that girl will climb out of the TV and scare the crap out of me before eating my soul.
Flying around in a pressurized tin can with wings that occasionally look like they’re going to snap off is more than a little unnerving for me, and its no help to remind me that flying is safer than driving because that just makes me feel like I should be more afraid of driving rather than less afraid of flying.
And this is just the “far-fetched” stuff that freaks me out. Now that I’m getting married and graduating with a degree in philosophy, I’ve got some real stuff to get scared about. Did I make the wrong decision by leaving philosophy? Did I make the wrong decision by majoring in philosophy in the first place? How will we make “enough” money? Where will we live? How will we come to agreements about these decisions in the first place?
And even if we get past all of that, there’s still some other things to be afraid of. For example, is it me or does it seem like many (perhaps even most) adults over 40ish are unhappy? Many are working jobs they don’t like or are in marriages that they are less than stoked about or do not have any serious friendships or feel fundamentally disappointed with how their life turned out or… How do I avoid falling into these traps that seem to have snagged so many people?
Now, I’ve never really been ashamed to admit that I’m a pansy or paranoid or whatever. Lately, however, there is something quite shameful that has been happening as a result of my paranoia: I’ve let my fears rule me. I’ve let them come between me and the people that I care about. I’ve let these fears blind me to why I’ve been acting a fool lately. In fact, I’ve even used them to justify my less than loving behavior.
So, I know that this has got to change, and at this point, it may seem that the best solution is to “sack up.” The problem, however, is that I’m a pansy and I am not really sure I know how to do that, nor am I even sure what it even means to sack up. So maybe this solution won’t work for me.
It seems unlikely, moreover, that I’m going to get anywhere by trying to trick myself into believing that life isn’t really that scary and that I’m just overreacting. In real life, bad things happen. People make decisions that they regret. Or they fail to have any truly satisfying relationships. Or they die in plane crashes. Or get terminally ill. No one is going to convince me that these things don’t happen or that they are not scary when they do happen, so that route isn’t going to work either.
Since the more obvious solutions don’t really seem feasible, I think I’ll try this counter-intuitive solution: I will try to become more of a pansy. I will add one more item to the list of things that freak me out:
I want to be afraid that I will let my fear of everything else get in the way of loving my bride-to-be well while I can, of talking patiently and kindly with her and my family members about how to do this life thing together, of connecting in meaningful ways with the fantastic people around me, of striving to be motivated to help the distant “least of these,” and of appreciating the good times and weathering well the hard times of life.
I want to become more afraid of letting fear get in the way than I am of that girl from The Ring because the worst she can do is eat my soul and the worst I can do is let fear drive me to crush the spirits of those around me. I want to be more afraid of letting my fears damage my relationships than I am of poor career choices or poor housing arrangements or being poor because a wealth of healthy relationships renders irrelevant all poverty. I want to be more afraid of letting fear crowd out love than I am of living with some regrets because not all regrets are created equal. I want to be more afraid of failing to love well than I am of dying in a plane crash because the best I can hope for in this life is to leave it knowing that I’ve been too much of a pansy to let fear crowd out love.