This blog post doesn't offer any answers on dealing with fear, and I seriously doubt even the kindest suggestions will alter my fears in any real way. Perhaps the only thing those of us who suffer fear can do is garden. Yep. This is my solution for a good many things. If all else fails, buy something and stick it in the ground. Water it some. Pick off the dead leaves. Cut it back before winter. Watch it bloom and flourish in spring. Or die. That happens, too, in the garden.
Last winter's bitter cold did a real number on my hydrangeas. One single bloom on the bottom, a lonely little guy, and that was it. These are Endless Summer hydrangeas, too. They are supposed to bloom on old and new wood. I did feel bad for the little guy who showed up, though. In hindsight I should've cut him and put him in a bouquet. Perhaps plant personification is a sign you're starting to lose it?
There are medications you can take for fear. I haven't tried that yet. My fears seem to disappear with daylight. At times I simply get up and start working on something, except that I'm tired the next day if I use this tactic. The other night I just lay there and didn't allow myself to move. This seemed to work okay, especially since I combined it with prayer. Not a real prayer, just the "Help!" kind. I think God knows when we're too paralyzed to offer a thoughtful prayer because the next thing I knew it was 6:00 AM. Thank you for that, by the way.
Part of this fear thing is aging, and truth be told, this is probably what I am fearing most. Not the wrinkles so much as the poor health or dementia or the loss of loved ones—children moving far away, husband dying, friends getting too old to travel.
Um, hello? You are fifty, not eighty. This is what I tell myself, though I know the fates don't really care how old (or young) we are. Bad things happen at any age. Bad things can happen, have happened, to you and me. Bad things will happen again. It's irrational to think otherwise.
But I am tired of basing too many decisions on fear. Whether it's purchasing the wrong rug for the basement (that can be returned anyway, so who cares?) or changing jobs or trying something new (skydiving anyone?) or taking a trip or (even worse!) allowing your children to take risks (sleep-away camp, graduate school on the other side of the country!), life is one big risk. No one gets out alive, as they say.
A harsh winter can zap all your summer blooms. Nasty old Japanese beetles might chew you to bits. For the record, I detest JB's.
I'm a reader, and a couple of years ago I read Joan Didion's book Blue Nights. Talk about things to fear. In a span of eighteen months this woman lost both husband and daughter. And yet, she writes. She goes on. The pressing question in Blue Nights, at least the question I got was this: Did you enjoy it enough? Did you enjoy the children and the husband (if you have them)? Did you enjoy the morning coffee and the lunch with a good girlfriend? Did you enjoy creating that blog post even if no one commented? Did you enjoy the garden? Did you plant the flowers? Cook the chicken dinner? Raise the children one slow yet heartbreakingly fast minute at a time? Did you tell them often enough how much you love them?
Did you enjoy it enough? This means, I suppose it means, we need to stop and see and smell and touch and taste. Deep down I know THIS is what keeps me awake at night. I want to savor it all. I want to enjoy it enough. And I want dumb old stupid useless fear to leave me alone while I live this life. But sometimes I fail at keeping fear and all that accompanies it at bay.
On this beautiful, everyday, regular Wednesday in summer, I offer this passage from Thornton Wilder.
Goodbye to clocks ticking…and Mama's sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths…and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you.
P.S. While writing this post the dog has peed all over the Oriental rug fringe, and the plumber is here to fix not one but TWO leaks. He will also open the ceiling above my kitchen sink so it can "air out." I guess if I'm going to practice what I'm preaching here, I need to "enjoy" these experiences, too.