Posts Tagged ‘fear’

A Notorious Presence

August 24, 2017

We just think we know what will happen today.

We rely upon all of our yesterdays, our planning, our assumptions, and the sheep-like complacency of our fellow humans to make our day like any other day. Human survival depends on reliability and predictability.

And then some wayward ripple of Life comes along. That smooth boring surface of daily living becomes an unfamiliar landscape with a murky outcome. Some people are fine with the unknown. Others need to know the conclusion now. They turn to Life for answers. Sometimes, Life responds with possibilities or even solutions.

Other times, there is silence – an empty waiting chasm of nothing. No resolution. No advice. No insights. No path to follow.

That silence is a place for something more to happen. Something greater is being asked of me. I am being asked to fill the emptiness, to bring what I dare not be. When Life does not offer a solution, perhaps I am being asked to create it.

The poet Rumi wrote: “Run from what’s comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious. I have tried prudent planning long enough. From now on I’ll be mad.”

I want to be notorious.

Life has delivered me in the world with all of the abilities and qualities to live as fully alive as possible, to engage in spite of my doubt, to embrace the unknown without planning for every contingency. When Life is silent and not responding to my question, not resolving the problems surrounding me, not delivering me from my trials, I am being offered the opportunity to be notorious.notorious

The silence at daybreak is an open invitation to be more than was possible. I want to get up each day and square off with the mortality that is claiming the years of my life. I won’t last forever in my comfort zone of known outcomes.

I want to fear me in the mornings.


The presence of peace

July 16, 2011

World peace is possible. Just do things my way.

Frequently, I make the mistake of listening to the news. I occasionally read the news magazines.

Neither is full of sunshine.

Both are overflowing with violence towards ourselves.

My limited scientific knowledge of how we are all interconnected speaks to the truth that we are One. When we attack and harm another, we are essentially waging war against ourselves. If I commit an act of violence against another person, it is my own internal angst that makes me lash out. Something has disturbed my sense of peace and well-being. Self-defense and sociopathy aside, it is the fundamental lack of peace within each one of us that is a prime motivator to violence against ourselves.

I test this constantly. Anytime I feel anger and a desire to lash out at another, I find it is rooted in fear, a disruption of my internal sense of peace. As I listen to the news and hear about the inability of people to resolve their problems without harming another, I feel scared, helpless, and alone.

I wonder: What if each person found their peace within themselves? If we stay centered in our peace, perhaps we would lose our fear. In its place would be trust in oneself and the greater One that we are all motivated from our sense of personal peace. Of course, that fantasy fills me with peace. The problem is that it relies upon the actions of others. It is dependent upon how others are in the world, not how I am in the world. The real test is whether I can maintain my peace even within the greatest of fears. My honest self-assessment acknowledges that I would commit violence to defend the lives of myself and those I love. That includes fighting for food, water, shelter, and safety (first and second in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs). And when I think about our world situation, I get the feeling that our violent behavior is born because we don’t feel safe. We want to assure ourselves that we will have enough food and water. There are people who will put up with atrocious acts committed against them just so they can maintain their food and water supply.

The reality is that there is enough food and water in the world to take care of everyone. That we misuse our water supply and grow food to capitalize wealth is our shame.

We created the games and rules of societal living. We created the system of money and wealth. We created the root of our fear.

Maybe it is time to create something else.

©2011 by Barbara L. Kass

The presence of spiders

April 3, 2011

Arachnophobics beware. I am a big fan of spiders. I am, however, happy to love them and cheer them on from a distance.

Of all the insects, spiders are perhaps the most shy and prefer to have nothing to do with humans. If they venture into your house, they hide in dark, undisturbed places, spinning their tiny webs and nabbing other pesky insects. I once lived with what I will call a “fly spider.” He (or she, I never got close enough to check it out) lived on my ceilings and spun webs close to doorways trapping the flies who would zoom in as I came and went. Because the fly spider stayed on the ceiling and I stayed on the floor, we maintained an excellent relationship for over two years.

When I was about 10 years old, I invaded their world by creeping outdoors with my flashlight before dawn to explore what the world was like in the dark. Before you go freaking out imagining all sorts of dangers lurking in the shadows prepared to pounce upon me, know that I haven’t been 10 years old in at least 40 years and I lived on an army base. And I never went much further than my own back yard. I didn’t need to. I found the most spectacular spider webs carefully crafted between bushes and trees, with the creator nestled snugly in the center patiently waiting for that tremble signaling prey had landed. I would go back later in the day only to discover no traces of the web or the spider.

Knowing what I know about spiders, I was surprised when I saw one scuttling across the floor the other day during a yoga session. I was perfectly fine with allowing the spider to continue its way to its intended destination, but the man next to me was not. He screamed, jumped up, grabbed his shoe, and started pounding the spider, yelling the entire time, until it was nothing more than a pasty dark mass. Please understand we had the spider outnumbered. There were ten of us. It was the middle of the day with bright sunlight streaming through the windows. I think the spider was searching for some darkness (it found the ultimate darkness, that’s for sure). It certainly was not looking to attack any of us.

While that man was responding as many other people do when they see a spider, I now view him in a very different way than I did before I witnessed that event. I understand that people, when in the midst of their phobias, lose control of their responses. But, he could have chosen a different response. He could have moved away. Or, done nothing. The spider was going to bypass him. As he sat back down, he said “I hate spiders.” I want to say he acted out of his fear, but instead of acknowledging he was afraid, he could only acknowledge how his fear manifested – in the form of hate.

Some fears of getting bit by spiders are well-founded. The brown recluse and black widow are poisonous to humans. If a brown recluse or black widow take up residence in your home, feel free to escort them quickly outdoors or, in some cases, the next iteration of their existence. That is taking good care of you. Of course, if you really want to be magnanimous, you can leave the spider there and you can find a new home.

Just kidding.

This episode brought home to me how the world manifests its fear of others by telling ourselves we hate someone else and need to attack and kill them before they attack and kill us. Maybe the topic of fear should be the first thing discussed at peace negotiations.

©2011 by Barbara L. Kass

The presence of shadow

October 7, 2010

Now that I know, what shall I do?

I’ve discovered the nature that lurks in me – a shadow self – one that is starkly present when I shine an inner light on myself. I can tease it out from all angles. Even if the light is directly overhead, the shadow is still there beneath my feet. This shadow side of me is an aspect of self theorized by psychologist Carl Jung and it sleeps, feeds, and grows within my unconscious.

My whole life has been about waking up and becoming fully conscious. I prefer to be consciously wonderful brimming with goodness, salvation, sanity, charity, understanding, and forgiveness.

According to Jung, once I discover the shadow side, I also discover my dark side.

Within my dark side are my monsters, and if I do not acknowledge them as being mine, if I do not discover their nature and the validity of that nature, I will project them out into the world and suddenly the world is a monstrous place. If I keep my shadow in the dark, it hides until the moment is right to burst forth and suddenly what might come from me is a reaction that speaks of fear, uncertainty, anger, and desperation, and I would not have a clue where it truly came from. Instead, I would blame others for evoking that reaction in me.

I play victim to my own beliefs, and am held prisoner by my ideal projection of how the world should be, constantly locking myself away as the world reveals that it is the projection of billions of other souls who have a different agenda. And, I battle with everything that does not meet my ideal. What I do to others, others are doing to me. Thus, the world becomes what Jung called the “collective unconscious.”

The cure, of course, is sociological critical mass consisting of enough souls who have encountered and accepted their shadows. I need to become aware of the root of my reactions and whether those reactions are feeding the monster or if I am truly responding to others as they are.

Now that I know, this is what I shall do: live by the intent of creating a world where life recognizes and promotes itself as One.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

The presence of fear

April 2, 2010

 The presence of fear is an indicator of something I need to pay attention to. It is my response to fear and defining it as “good” or “bad” that often determines my actions.  Shakespeare (Hamlet) comes to mind – “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Like all of our emotions, fear is necessary to our survival. Being afraid of people with loaded weapons, for example, is healthy because I will stay alive longer if I fear and avoid them. There are rational fears that I need to pay attention to because they indicate situations that might result in harm to me (such as reckless drivers, bottomless drops off of cliffs, the guy who has been married and divorced — worse: widowed — five times, and my cat when I have forgotten to feed her . . .

There are irrational fears . . . some people call them phobias. Fear of water, fear of open places, fear of closed places . . . there is a phobia for just about anything (check out

Then, there is the fear of living, of being truly alive. It is not on the phobia list. I checked. Some of us are afraid to be truly alive because we anticipate something bad might happen to us. You have to listen to the fear story you are telling yourself. All fear stories have a plot that exists somewhere in future time. The story will cause you to doubt yourself and think that you are less than you are.

Regardless of what scares me, I find two very important things give me comfort: first, I can always act and take care of myself in spite of my fear; second, I was born with everything I need to endure, resolve, cope, heal, be, defend, and continue. My certainty that I will continue to exist eternally sustains me. This is true for you, too.

Every moment beyond this one . . . and this one . . . and this one . . . (you get the idea) is unknown. There is only the eternal present. Because I have a past, a history, a body of knowledge of dealing with all the unknowns I have encountered, and I have successfully lived through those moments (as have you), I know that I have everything I need to deal with the unknown even if I don’t know how I might deal with it right now.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass