My post on ‘fearlessness’ prompted considerable e-mail response. One story – from a member of our Mazatlan writers’ group – was particularly powerful. Sue Carnes, who has published an award-winning picture book called My Champion, describes a childhood in which she had to continually stare fear in the face. I’m happy to turn this week’s blog over to Sue and her thoughts on ‘fear’:
“Fear can paralyze, send you to your knees, fill your ears with the crescendo of your racing heartbeat, until you take control, stop running and turn a brave face. That is my story in a sentence. It took me years to execute. First, I suffered and hid, a quivering small person imprisoned by fear. Disgusted with myself, I tried to be proactive. I read all the books and practiced conquering fear doing scary things. One day, I heard a 2000 year old fable that some say originated with Buddha himself. The story stole into my subconscious mind liberating my spirit. This ancient fable convinced me there is power in the myth. So, I pass it on in hopes it will open some doors for you also.
“In the deep forests of Benares lived a young elephant as white as crane’s down, with size, strength and beauty befitting a king. Trainers were selected to teach her to stand firm and follow commands, but they used harsh means that maddened her with pain. The young elephant broke free escaping captivity.
“Far, far into the Himalayan Mountains she ran outdistancing all the king’s men. In time they went home and she was free. But she raced on, not reducing her pace, not forgetting her cruel imprisonment, and with the snap of any twig or the rustle of the trees moved by a breeze, she became wild with fear. Finally, a compassionate tree sprite observed her thrashing, exhausted and spent. Leaning out of a tree he whispered into her ear:
“‘Do you fear the wind? It only moves the clouds and dries the dew. Look instead into your mind. It’s fear that has captured you.’
“And the minute the beautiful elephant heard these words, she realized she had nothing to fear but the habit of being afraid, and she began again to enjoy life.”
To get a taste of Sue’s powerful comtemporary prose, check out: