There was this movie After Earth with Will and Jaden Smith. I thought it was a great movie about the dynamics of the father-son relationship, passing the torch, conquering fears, and overcoming one’s past. Now, I don’t know what other people saw when they watched the movie but apparently, it was none of what I saw because it only pulled an 11% on Rotten Tomatoes which landed it in the top 10 worst movies for 2013. Well, it was number 10 worst until 47 Ronin came out and After Earth was bumped up to the 11th most worstest movie that year! I have no care for reviews or other folk’s opinions when it comes to art, its art and therefore subjective and I really liked it and in my universe, that is what counts. One of the things I liked about this movie was Will’s character, Cypher. He had an unwavering strength and interesting perspective on fear. Even if you never watched the movie you may have come across a meme with Cypher’s quote;
“Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me danger is very real, but fear is a choice.”
For me, this was one of the most powerful quotes I had ever heard in my life! I have lived the majority of my life shrouded in fear. The fear of physical harm, fear that I wasn’t enough, fear of failure, and the fear that I would never know real love. Watching that movie and hearing that quote made me rethink my idea of what fear was and come to understand myself and my fears as separate independent things. Many of my fears (not all of them, love the quote but one quote can encompass everything) were choices I made based on things that were not real, that I allowed to have space in my life.
Fear had become a part of me, like a vestigial organ, hiding in the space between my heart and my lungs. Serving no purpose and providing no benefit at this point in my evolution. It would squeeze my heart just a bit to keep me from fully experiencing joy, reminding me to not get comfortable or let my guard down because pain was sure to arrive soon. It would push all the air out of my lungs and leave me gasping for oxygen when I began to consider the possibility that I was enough, conditioning me so I would know that I was not. Looking at my life I began to realize that many of the things I did were driven by my fears.
When I reach back into the catacombs of my memories I cannot find a time when fear didn’t exist. One of my earliest memories is of my mom being pregnant with my sister and being her assistant. Getting her water, adjusting her pillow, or tying her shoes. I was happy to do it, but I was also afraid. Afraid that I would drop the glass, not set the pillow just right, not move fast enough, have the wrong facial expression, or fail to make the knot tight enough in her shoes. All of which would lead to yelling and or some form of physical punishment. This was the way it was from the moment I opened my eyes until I closed them every night (and sometimes while I slept) I lived with the constant fear that I had made or would shortly make some mistake and would have to endure some sort of corrective action. This trained me to try to be perfect (never fail), to hide my emotions, to be prepared for bodily harm, and it made me question the love my mother had for me.
It’s crazy how a single quote or a lyric from a song can stir up so many thoughts but I guess that is how the human mind works. The simplest thing can tap into the core of who we are and shine a light on the darkest parts of our soul. Seeing this movie set me on a journey to understand my fears. I don’t believe I can conquer my fears, I don’t think that jumping out of a plane or any other extreme activity can have a lasting impact if you don’t take the time to understand the problem. So, for me I accept the fact that I may never be able to live the life I have seen on many memes:
I have come to realize for me fear may always occupy a space in me and that’s ok. I truly strive to learn and to understand what my fears are and to know the source of them. Because while they may be there I will do my best not to succumb or bend to their will. I have never had a fight, but I have imagined kicking ass a lot lot. I know I will fail at some things and that is ok, I understand now that I am so much more than enough. Love has proven to be tricky, but I do believe that it is possible. These may sound like simple assertions but for me, they are tremendous and put me on a path to living a glorious life, because I am afraid not to!