Face Fear and Keep Going

Fear, while critically necessary for life itself, can be horrifying and crippling. It can also eat away at us day in and day out. And yet, welcoming our fear turns out to be the best way to conquer it. Over and over again.

Illustration by Min Ahwon

Life is frightening. That thought came over me the morning after the mass killings in Paris last November. On the night of the attacks, I emailed a friend there, asking if he was okay. He wrote back the next morning: “Everything is fine…but what a shock!” What a shock indeed.

Events like this evoke many responses: sadness, fear, anger, hoping it won’t happen to me, worrying about whether friends and family are all right, wondering how to help. It also highlights the necessity to work with our own fear, from the little niggling fears we have to the biggest challenges we face in life. Where do we find courage? Where do we find solutions?

It seems there are no sweeping answers that magically calm our fear and anxiety. However, some hints may be close at hand. For intertwined with fear, we discover fearlessness.  This was highlighted by the response of citizens in Paris on Twitter, immediately following the attacks: People using the hashtag “Porte Ouverte”—Door Open—to offer shelter to those affected by the bombs and shootings, who needed a place to spend the night, who could not get home, who needed a refuge from the terror. Come here, our door…

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About the author

Carolyn Gimian

Carolyn Gimian has been writing, editing, and teaching about meditation and mindfulness for more than thirty-five years. She is a regular contributor to Mindful magazine.