Many people believe the following statement:
“Real freedom is the absence of fear.”
I respectfully disagree. I tell my kids that fear is only step one. Step two is bravery. An absence of fear is probably not practical or even possible. Denial is rarely effective. And actually, fear can be quite motivating if you are brave enough to deal with it.
Is it possible to not have fear in your life? I’m sure it is. But at what cost? The resulting hardness and immunity from doubt and the ever questioning spirit necessary to achieve “no fear” would end up making us so insensitive to our environment that we would become disconnected. Denial creates separation. I choose to feel, to overcome my fears, and to empathize with others who experience fear. It would be inauthentic to pretend they are not there. As an artist, I deal with what it is to be human for a living. I’m emotionally invested in what I put out there as a writer, director, actor, visual artist, etc. We deal with the possibility of rejection and criticism all the time. Fear of success and fear of failure can be debilitating. But so is the absence of it.
I have learned to keep my belly soft and my skin thick, which is no easy trick. I have learned how to be brave in the face of adversity. I have learned to face it, to see it for what it is and what it is not. To my great surprise, I realized that most of what we fear is mere illusion, which makes it much easier to process. Separating what is a real threat from what is illusion is critical for a happy and full life. But to skip the step, to pretend there is no fear, is inauthentic, even dangerous. I realized a long time ago, the absence of fear would kill my art spirit faster than you could say “rejection.” It was not an easy lesson. But I realized, after years of struggle and monumental effort, that the denial of fear leads to a hardness I have seen far to often in others. It never felt authentic in my own experimentation with it. It only leads to hubris and a lack of true presence, which I find extremely unattractive. It’s not an easy balance, but it can be achieved.
Here’s a little story about fear and bravery you may enjoy.