It all came to a head after I had posted my two part story about Maria the scarecrow. It was originally meant to be a single story in response to a writing prompt. Oloriel who hosts the prompts, commented that the ending to the story was sad. It left her wanting a story about Maria’s return. So I wrote a sequel. Then a good blogging friend of mine, Calen said that the story would make a great fable. I just needed to add a moral.
So – here I am writing about fear. Because that is essence of the story about Maria the scarecrow. In the writing of this newsletter my aim is to uncover the moral for the Fable of Maria.
When I started researching fear, I discovered that I had read several blog posts about that very subject just in the last couple of weeks. Bingo – synchronicity! And of course there is a lot of people writing a lot of stuff about all the fearful things that are happening around the world.
I often start with a Google search, dictionary definitions, and Wikipedia . This is what I found –
Google search for fear got me 564 million results in 0.9 secs !!! Wow – that’s a lot of fear stuff out there. I’ve got some serious culling to do.
The dictionary definition of fear states that it is a ‘distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, whether threat is real or imagined.’ It’s synonyms – foreboding, apprehension, dismay, dread, terror, fright. It’s antonyms – courage, security, calm.
Some psychologists have suggested that fear is one of a small number of basic emotions that we all have. The others include acute stress, anger, angst, anxiety, fright, horror, joy, panic, sadness.
Typically when a person is fearful the body undergoes some changes – this is often called the fight or flight response. Breathing rate increases and becomes more shallow, the heart races, blood is redirected to the major muscles and vital organs, goose bumps, sweaty palms, dry mouth, butterflies in the stomach…. And a feeling of fear. I’m sure we’re all familiar with these things.
Fear itself is contagious. It has been postulated that this is in response to an increase in certain pheromones which kick in, activating the fear system.
I stretched my research a bit further and dug into the archives of my blog – I recall writing a Halloween post back in 2015 exploring why it is that some people get a kick out of being scared. It seems the adrenalin rush, the sense of relief from surviving the situation is more intense after a good scare.
It’s a sneaky little devil, this fear thing. A bit of a chameleon it seems. Many people have an intense, phobic fear of particular things like for example spiders, death, heights, change, open space and they go to extreme lengths to avoid being exposed to them.
Others actively seek it. I sometimes wonder if the thrill seekers fall into this category too. You know, the bungee jumpers, white water rafters, extreme sports people. The rush of adrenalin laced fear melting into a soft, warm ooze of comfort and a sense of achievement teetertottering in a precarious balance with the sense of relief. I wonder if there is an element of addiction in there too. An urge and a drive to seek ever greater and more extreme experiences to attain that counterbalancing surge of relief.
It’s not something I personally aspire to. Never have. I like my feet firmly planted on terra firma with no unpleasant surprises.
The thing is, repetitive and chronic stress , such as that created by fear, takes a serious toll on health and wellbeing.
Dr Andrea Dinardo wrote an interesting article in her blog about that kind of fear. She coined an interesting acronym for it – the ‘Forget Everything And Run’ I like that. It’s very descriptive of what happens. However, she took it one step further and turned it upside down into ‘Face Everything And Rise’.
I really like that too. It gives hope. It says that fear does not have to be the destructive force that we so often think it to be. It says that we can use it’s energy to confront and overcome it. It says that we can rise above it and take charge of our lives. She goes on to say that the way to do that is to focus on strengths. They are greater than any perceived threats and fears.
“Breathe and Receive. The mantra Stand Your Sacred Ground inspires us to stand still, take a deep breath, and trust that being yourself is enough. Simply holding your own ground is enough. No fight. No flight. No Fear. Only love.”
LET’S PUT ALL THIS RESEARCH INTO A NUTSHELL SUMMARY –
There’s a lot of fear milling around in the world
There’s a lot of stuff written about fear and how to conquer it
Some people like to deliberately expose themselves to fearful situations for the thrill of it and the sense of relief they experience afterwards
Some people are frozen in a state of chronic fear that has a huge and detrimental impact on their whole life
Fear can be contagious
Fear can be turned around into a positive force
NOW LET’S PULL THE KEY POINTS OF THE MARIA STORY INTO A NUTSHELL SUMMARY –
Maria was huge, scary looking, but in a nice way
How she arrived, left and returned is a mystery
The whole village celebrated the metaphor that is Maria (= fear) every week in a rather macabre way with food, games and fun
When she disappeared everyone felt the loss – the soul of the village had been taken leaving life hollow and meaningless
The announcement of Maria’s return was preceded by wild rumours of death, gloom and horror – imagined fear
Maria’s return signalled a joyous return to the status quo that existed before. Life had returned to normal – calm
WHAT DOES THE FABLE OF MARIA TEACH US ABOUT FEAR?
Maria’s presence gave the villagers a reason to celebrate and give vent to their childlike albeit bizarre expressions of fun. Everyone joined in. Maria as metaphor was the glue that kept the village humming and happy.
When she disappeared the fabric of the village was torn asunder. Just as mysteriously as she had appeared and disappeared, Maria and Halloween returned to the village and ‘all was well again.’ No one questioned why or how she came and went.
‘Fear’ (aka Maria) in its mysterious comings and goings had a huge impact on the village.
Maria’s presence enabled a sense of purpose and balance to exist. The villagers lived in a state of ‘Face Everything And Rise’. Her absence plummeted them into ‘Forget Everything And Run’.
WHAT IS THE MORAL FOR THE FABLE OF MARIA?
Fear can sometimes hit as mysteriously as a bolt of lightning out of a blue sky. Or it can be actively sought in order to experience the yin and the yang of it. Or it can be chronic and pervasive. How the impact is managed and experienced at a visceral level seems to be the critical key.
THE MORAL of the story about Maria is that life is a celebration of community, relationships and connections.
Or do you have a different take on it ?
© Raili Tanska
Also written inresponse to Lady Calen’s Sandbox Challenge 78
If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile and blossom like a flower, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace — Thich Nhat Hanh