Sunday, April 27, 2008

Back

I am back after spending the weekend in Cottonwood Falls--which, though only a little over an hour away from Wichita, I highly recommend for those of you looking for A Place to Get Away From It All.

I am now 46 years old. I share a birthday with Oliver Cromwell, Ella Fitzgerald, and Al Pacino. More fun facts here!

I spent a lot of time in introspection: the birthday thing to do, you know. You'd think I'd have learned some things by now. And some of the things I have learned, I can easily see myself and people I love would have benefited greatly had I not learned them. Y'know? Fear is at the root of those things.

How does one unlearn fear? That's my homework for a while.

9 comments:

Winston said...

I believe it correct that we enter this realm without fear. Fear is a learned response from experiences (or observations) that gave us pain, punishment, torment -- some kind of negative outcome. So maybe the place to start in your quest for the answer to "how does one unlearn fear?" is to examine how we learn fear in the first place.

Another thought: We use terms like "overcoming" fear, "managing" fear, etc. This makes me wonder if we cannot "unlearn", but simply manage, once a fear takes root. Like putting toothpaste back in the tube...

John B. said...

Thanks for stopping by, Winston

Well, yes. It's easier to ask some questions than to answer them. But--just so no one misunderstands the tone of this post--there are some other reasons why I'm not typing this while curled up in a little ball in a corner. As Thomas Merton famously, and helpfully, once said, "The question is the answer."

Gwynne said...

You're only a few months older than I am, but so many years wiser. You make an interesting point about how much fear shapes our lives, our choices and our personalities. What's strange is that everyone has different fears (obviously learned from experiences) while fear itself is essential to survival, i.e. we're born with the instinct, making it difficult to "put back in the tube," to use Winston's analogy.

John B. said...

Gwynne,
I appreciate the kind words, but I assure you I don't deserve them.

Some fear is of course a good thing, just as you note: it prolongs our lives. But sometimes that very thing keeps one from truly living.

Doc said...

hey!

happy belated returns on the day...

as far as fear goes, i learned long ago that fear won't kill you, ergo you CAN do what you're afraid of. the fear doesn't necessarily ease off, much less go away, but that has no bearing on the outcome.

Ashley said...

Hope you had a happy birthday.
It's odd for me to realize that fear can both help in the form of caution and debilitate.
It's counterintuitive to think that the question is the answer, yet also part of why questions, and the questioning of ourselves, is so important.

Pam said...

Well, belated birthday wishes (and quite frankly, I'd be delighted to share ANYTHING with Al Pacino...but that's about something else altogether).

I'm not sure that we ever unlearn fear - perhaps we just learn to move forward in spite of it.

John B. said...

Doc, Ashley and Pam, thanks for stopping by and for the birthday greetings. Ashley, if you want to be a blogger, I'm afraid you'll just have to let your family starve.

Re fear: It's like Sam Fathers tells Ike McCaslin somewhere in the Faulkner novel Go Down, Moses): "Be afraid. But don't ever be scared."

Amy Kane said...

John, a (very) belated happy birthday. I've been 46 since March 12 and it ain't so bad. What is the opposite of fear? How can you have more of it? (I don't have answers, just thinking out loud.)