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Matt Kinnaman

Lose Your Fear

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Once upon a time in an interview, Van Morrison, speaking about fame, said “It’s not what it seems.”

So many times in life, what we assume is actually “not what it seems.”

Assumptions, as you know if you ever made one, often lead down unfortunate paths, paths of missed opportunities, trouble, mistakes, embarrassment, regret, and other avoidable outcomes.

Assumptions about what might be, what might happen, also engender fear in many forms, some of it low-level fear, the kind that just sort of slows you down and makes you hesitate. Or worse, the paralyzing fear that freezes you in your tracks and keeps you from moving. That’s the fear that breeds stasis and stands in opposition to a productive, redemptive, renewed life.

Worse yet, fear prevents us from faith. It blocks us from our mission to keep moving. It blinds us to the liberating truth that every moment is “just a beginning, always.”

Fear is a step away from life, toward death.

That sounds heavy. But it’s true. Fear ultimately breeds not life but death.

In this light, I often find myself resisting the constant call to “Stay safe!”

My resistance to “stay safe” and all of its related admonitions (Safety first, be safe, etc.) grew more intense during the bad old days of Covid lockdowns and isolation when for a time we collectively lost our will to venture out, be together, and live life, all in the name of “safety.” Which, it turns out, wasn’t actually safe after all, now that we can begin assessing and counting the collateral damage of those days, measured in lost learning, lost overall health, lost income, lost relationships, increased overall mortality, increased addiction, and increased mental health crises.

What would life feel like if we moved away from the supposed guarantees of “safety” and forged ahead into the energy and possibility of adventure? For a clue at the answer, ask yourself this question:

When do feel most alive?

Think about it. Is it ever when you are totally safe? Is it ever when you are paralyzed into stasis by fear?

Fear is a trickster. It’s not what it seems. It is not your friend. It can creep in at first as a rational cautionary feeling, but once it gets a foothold, it finds ways to hang on tighter and tighter and becomes harder and harder to knock down.

Over the Rhine, in their song “Spark,” sings about the way it works:

“Obsessions with self-preservation faded when I threw my fear away.
There’s not a thing you can’t imagine.
You either lose your fear or spend your life with one foot in the grave.
Is God the last romantic?”

You either lose your fear or spend your life with one foot in the grave.

So, today, get out there and live. Don’t live with one foot in the grave. Live with both feet on the ground. Or, better yet, sometimes with both feet in the air!

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