Thursday, April 2, 2009

Standing on the Tracks

I have been listening to people. Lots of different people in lots of different situations. In person, on the radio, friends, co-workers, politicians, strangers. And I have been thinking, "When do I sound like that?" Pessimistic. Afraid. Panicky even.

It takes many different forms, but I have been noticing more and more the influence of fear on people around me. It plays out like a natural, automatic response to danger, the whole fight or flight thing. Only the danger isn't real. And even if it is, reacting to it won't make it less dangerous. The more I listen to and watch people being fearful, the more I want to push them off the tracks. At least the ones to whom I have direct access.

But I recognize that pushing them off the tracks isn't necessarily the answer. I want to find a graceful way to point out: You are standing in the direct path of a crazy-train of your own device, and if you are willing to take a few steps, your perspective might grant a fuller picture of reality. The crazy-train might be exciting, but it doesn't go to the destination you really want.

And then I look at my own decisions and thought streams, and I recognize how crafty fear can be. I make intentional choices most of the time, but sometimes I stand right on the tracks. My own crazy-train doesn't smack me or crush me, though. It just scoops me up gently and carries me in the opposite direction of where I most want to go. Am I so afraid of getting what I want?
What can I create from fear that is worth creating? Who can I be when I'm in control of my fear and not the other way around?

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