Instance – Fear

Dear Fear,

I have wasted much of my life because of you.

You are the idea which perpetually hangs over and onto me: purely a notion which I seem to have invented. 

You are the tension I feel in the racing of my mind which only shows me all the treacherous possibilities that lie ahead, should I choose to take whatever road which lies before my feet. 

You are my heart, pounding in my chest with the aim of showing me the fragility of the very body which holds the insecurities representing my head.  

Despite this, I know for a fact that the day I was born, we had not yet met. And as I mustered the strength to take my first steps, still, I did not know you, for I would not have otherwise risked the plight of falling, and instead made no progress in my mobile development. 

A bit later, as I opened my mouth to make some sounds arranged in the way of a word for the first time, still, I had not quite met you yet, at least not in the sense I have come to know you now. I know this because I would not have had the assuredness to utter a word which would flow from my lips so imperfectly, under the fear of disappointing those around me by my lack of ability. And in not doing so, would have greatly limited my abilities of expression. 

Truly, I cannot recall when we first met. I do not recall myself leaving the door open for you to enter my head, without so much as a knock or the ring of a bell. I do not recall the point at which you made a bed for yourself. When was it that you came to feel at home, and when did I let it be so? 

I do recall, however, the earliest instances of your arrivals, back when you only phoned, or visited as a guest, to tell me to be careful while standing at an edge. Or to be cautious in the water, so that I did not outrun my breath. Your company was so welcome that I invited you in with a seat at my table as an honorary member, for I trusted you would always come to warn me of the great physical dangers ahead.

At that time, you made it known that I should fear some people or things which might harm me – be it stepping back from a ledge, or my careful steps to avoid the pit in our garden composed of quicksand. Or be it intruders, who may threaten the peace and comfort of the home in which we rested.   

And even then, with such conviction: I recall fond memories of cousins and sisters gathered at a table, sitting just outside our house in the country – a place where we would rally in the summers; where the sun was so bright, but we had the trees to shield us. And the ground so firm, but we had the hammock to swing us. And the air so hot, but we had the mountain winds to chill us. And in those moments, we let our brave imaginations guide us in forging a plan so cunning… that we would not even give you the chance to come and visit to warn us of the prospect that an outsider might join us, uninvited. 

The plan we had devised was of the greatest courage – we were not to share this scheme with our family – we simply would know exactly how to react according to it. And we would be victorious; the saviors of our family as we protected our loved ones with our wits and panache. 

The plan was simple: We would welcome the intruder as if he had been expected. We would show no alarm nor apprehension as he entered into our warm reception. We would ask him to sit with us, if only for a moment, before he had the chance to act out the purpose of his arrival. We would say: “You must be tired. Here! Have a cup of coffee,” spoken in our native language. 

We would extend our hand toward him, offering a cup containing a brown substance, composed with elements of which only we had the knowledge, as it was of our own making: A careful selection of fruits of the poisonous trees found in our garden, and a bit of dirt from our soil to give it the color he would be expecting. And lest not forget, the sprinkle of coffee dust added for the sole purpose of preventing his senses from uncovering the genius of our plan.  

But this cup of carefully–brewed coffee – coupled with our conversation and poised patronage – was not the primary goal of this adventure: for this spectacle was merely a distraction, something to delay his plan while we waited for our drink to take effect. And when he became immobile, we would drag his body to the quicksand in our garden, and wipe our hands clean while we let nature do its honest work. 

On many more occasions than can be counted, we planned this great performance. We practiced it time and time again. Each summer, we knew what had to be done, and we traversed the lands in search of the ingredients which would guarantee this master plan’s success. And we were so certain that it would indubitably work should the time ever come when we had to act it out, that the plan itself became inevitable. So ingrained in our minds, that we could perform the actions with closed eyes, as we imagined the outcome as it were. To this very day, the plan lives on in each of us as we look back at those moments with fondness and humility of our childish reasoning. 


So, I ask you, my fear: 

Was it you, who asked to join me so permanently? 

Did you force yourself to stay, forever locked in this tiny room of my head? 

Or perhaps it was me, who grew so fond of your guidance that I invited you to stay a while longer? 

Or… did the time come when you did not make your regular visit to warn me of a moment I did not otherwise expect? 

Did you betray my solemn trust by getting so distracted with life that you forgot to call before moments of great dire, time and time again? 

Did I begin to resent you for those missed warnings and the pain I endured ahead? 

Did I make you feel shame for missing those moments and ask you to improve your game? 

Did I force you to question your loyalty to the very self you served, and did I thrust upon you a guilt which you could no longer live with, outside of my head? 

Did I build your cell, over time, where I intended to keep and monitor you, should you fail to protect me again? 

And in your cell, over time, I am sure you came to resent me as well. You grew angry at your captivity and only rang your bell to distract me from my goals and success. I am sure you grew bored as well, and would shout at me, only to be heard even when no dangers lied ahead. You grew spiteful, and would warn me of the likelihood of all painful things to cause me suffering, just for the simple joy of doing so, as your humanity and your sanity went out the window of your room, which grew larger and larger in my head. 

You are the unintended consequence of the preservation you once warned me against. From the Fear I once took in to protect myself, emerged a behemoth penetrating the security of the walls I have amassed outside of my own home. Inside these walls, I no longer feel safe in my own thoughts with you screaming into them. 

In the future, I would do myself a great justice to take a lesson from my younger sentiments. 

Should I find you slithering your way into the thoughts which pervade my mind, I shall ensure that I am keeping my pot of coffee from growing cold. 

I will welcome your fearful thoughts as if they had been expected. I will show no alarm nor any apprehension as you enter my warm reception. I would ask you to come sit with me, if only for a moment, before you had the chance to act out the purpose of your arrival. I would engage in conversation, and tell you that you must be tired, whilst offering a warm cup of coffee. And from there, I would wipe my hands clean and let nature do its honest work. 

Perhaps once your chains have been broken, you might later come back to visit me on occasion, in the sense you always intended. 

*Any writing, ideas and art (or images thereof) you find in this post or on the site were created by Ahka Rhash ©

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