“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.”
Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear- Dune
Thirty years ago the last thing you ever wanted to in my neighborhood was admit you were afraid. It wasn’t because it was a rough neighborhood because it was not.
It was composed of ordinary middle class people who worked hard to provide a good life for their families, probably no different than a million other neighborhoods.
It was also populated by lots of children including many boys like myself who learned that you never wanted to admit you were scared, didn’t want to cry or do anything else to show that you were any weaker than the next boy.
Again, I am guessing that isn’t much different than what happened in a million other neighborhoods.
I Was Tough and I Was Scared
Back then I worked very hard to prove I was tough even when I was scared and I was scared more often than I wanted to admit. It bothered me because I thought it was weak and I was sure that The Six Million Dollar Man never got scared.
I really wanted to be him and wondered if one day I might be able to get some bionic limbs too. Might be kind of nice to be able to run as fast a car or jump up and down from high places.
Even though I never got those bionic limbs I made a point to look for tools and resources that I could use which is why the Litany Against Fear got my attention.
It seemed like a great tool I could use to master and overcome the fears I had.
What I Worried About
I really didn’t have too many fears. I didn’t like the dark and the Bigfoot from The Bionic Man really scared me which is a bit embarrassing now. Why? Because when I see a clip of him now he reminds me of a giant Muppet and well, Muppets never frighten me.
I should probably clarify that I was around eight or so when Bigfoot caught my attention and wouldn’t read Dune for another five or six years.
But I remember being surprised by how brave I could be when others were around and how that changed when they weren’t. One or two others were enough for me to feel comfortable walking almost anywhere in the dark, but if I was alone–not so much.
Present Day Fear
If you ask me to provide you with a list of things that scare me now I can do so. Most of them are relatively obvious and or mundane. They are concerns about my family and people I care about.
There are a few that are personal. I hate the idea of being burned to death or eaten alive. Every now and then I may get a little anxious about other stuff too, but some things are very different now than they used to be.
The Litany Works
Part of what is different now is that the Litany works for me in ways it never did. Maybe it is because I have learned that my graphic imagination makes things scarier and much worse than they are in reality.
When I am nervous about something it is usually tied into my not knowing or understanding as much as I would like to. When I get the chance to confront it and pull away the mystery things change and the fear fades.
That is what I hear and see the Litany say.
Now when I feel that whisper in the back of my mind I close my eyes and visualize myself somewhere calm and comfortable. I don’t always say the words of the Litany but sometimes I think about it.
I take that moment to give Fear a moment to shake his chains at me and then I snatch them out of his hands and smack him in the head with them.
You can call that the Litany with the Teddy Roosevelt speak softly and carry a big stick method.
What about you? How do you deal with your fear?