Fear, hatred, and suspicion narrow your mind – compassion opens it. ~ Dalai Lama
Fear is a four-letter word and like the other “F” word, it packs an emotional punch. A complex and destructive force, fear is paralyzing, demoralizing, and debilitating; it should, I think, be counted among the deadliest of sins.
I’m not talking about the kind of fear that triggers my fight or flight response when faced with a life-threatening situation. I am referring to the corrosive fear triggered by my imagination as I ruminate on the mere possibility of losing something I cherish or not getting the thing I most desire.
Intellectually, I know that money is just an exchange medium; but it too can be emotionally charged for me. It’s a number on a bank statement, a pile of paper and metal alloy stuffed in a leather satchel or safely hunkered in the belly of my purple-polka-dot piggy bank. It is the medium for which I exchanged 40 years of my life force and talents and I am very attached to my little piles of it. Due to some poor planning and lack of knowledge on my part, I am now faced with a situation that may move a significant portion of my money pile into someone else’s. The details are unimportant except to the extent to which I attach meaning to them. “I should have known better,” is music to the ears of my fear. “I am so stupid!” brings it even more delight. Fear will have all of me…past, present and future. It is imagining a future without my pile of money that really haunts me. “What will I do when I am old and feeble and have to eat cat food?” “Why did I quit my job?” “What was I thinking??”
“Legion is my name, for there are many of us” is what the demons said to Jesus before he cast them into the swine who madly drown themselves. And legions are the thoughts that plague me when I am possessed by the demon of fear. In the darkness of shame and silence, these thoughts consume me and rob me of my life…this life…this very moment of breath and beauty that is the gift of being human. Absent from the present, I am regretting the past or worrying about the future and so I miss catching a glimpse of the twinkle in my husband’s bright blue eyes or the spectacularly red cardinal who came to call. All beauty is lost to me…until I speak my truth.
It is only when I admit to myself that I have made a false god of money, when I call a friend and admit my shame and tell her my story, when I put my ego aside and show my vulnerability and name my fear that my fear is released. It is really just that simple.
Today I am fully present, in this moment. I have done my meditation, taken what practical steps I can and then turn the rest over to God. For now, the demon of financial insecurity has been called out and cast aside. Removed, but not yet drown, I know that it will raise its ugly head again. Armed with the light of truth, I can call that demon out again and again until all my money or all my fears are gone.
Artwork and photography by Janice Olson