The fear at the bottom of the hole

It has been argued that there is, fundamentally, only one fear: the fear of death. This hypothesis says that if you trace any fear to its deepest, darkest root, it turns out it’s the fear of nothingness, of non-being, our mortality. But I recently came across a very inspiring passage from How To Write a Sentence and How to Read One, by Stanley Fish (and yes, I read books like this!) that offered me a new insight into this fear.

“Mortality is the condition of being able to die, regarded by many as a curse, but more properly appreciated as a gift, the gift of design and choice, of gain and loss, of hope and desperation, of failure and redemption, all modes of being that are available only to creatures who, like sentences (and novels), have a beginning, a middle, and an end. It is the inevitability and shadow of death that provides life with a narrative arc, and provides moments in that narrative with a meaning; for the meaning of a moment – the distinctiveness – is a function of the place prepared for it by a past and the place waiting for it in a future…Without the specter and period of death, there would be no urgency of accomplishment, no expectations to be realized or disappointed, no anxieties to be allayed. Each moment would bear an equal weight or equal weightlessness.” (p 154)

Part of what we seek to do on Lion’s Whiskers is offer you suggestions for reframing fear and courage. What if, rather than bemoaning and cursing your fears, you looked at them as a gift? What if every fear is an opportunity to create meaning out of your experience?

Ask yourself: without fear, can you have courage?


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