Some four or five months ago I wrote a post called “Lessons in Love,” but I got stuck on my conclusion and when I left it be for a few days, I came down with mono, had to drop two classes, and never touched it again.
In the meantime, my life has only continued to swell with the force of love imbuing every moment of every day with vibrancy. My poetry became richer. My love of math, somehow deeper (and more fractured the same, but that’s another story). And my commitment to and appreciation of my friends and family only blossomed beyond comprehension.
Something changed, as I wrote those words, but like the onset of an illness–the swift and unknowing inhalation of an unseen germ or two–this transformation had already begun.
The truth is I’m not much wiser now than I was before; if anything, I’ve learned how frail my own understanding has become. If what I state today changes tomorrow, my words hold no meaning. If the love that shines through my skin like sunlight through miles of nuclear fusion suddenly turns dark, my message will be as cold as a solar system without a sun. But somewhere deeper, where my rational mind stops chattering and intuition holds reign over my thoughts, I realize this itself is part of the cosmic battle I’m witnessing.
Good versus evil, love versus fear? That is the war we each fight–some battlefields as tangible as the words you now read, some as internal as the voice conjured as you go.
My doubts are passive thoughts–they come to me whether I will it or not–and they are the embodiment of fear: the passive, involuntary action that has (from an evolutionary standpoint) provided our species with its greatest levels of survival. Fearlessness is dangerous, and dangerous behavior leads to death.
Death leads to extinction.
So fear became a force of animation–that which is afraid, survives.
And survival, so decided by forces that predate even these, is a good thing.
Love equally serves an evolutionary role: Just as fear is singular, love is inherently plural–it drives people to one another, creating bonds at their most primal aspects leading to procreation and at their pinnacle, to entire communities interwoven as tightly in value and tradition as the fingers of lovers in embrace.
Thus we can forsake neither force: We must live with them, or not live at all.
So why bother? Why spend all these words wondering, all these semantic passages blathering on if we can’t get rid of them, if we can’t make something better of ourselves with this awareness?
The truth is, I believe we can.
Fear is passive. I described fear akin to breathing: it exists in a base unreachable by conscious thought, and will continue unhindered if allowed, but with focus and intent, we can control it and reshape it.
Love is active. We can choose to commit ourselves, create new habits of behavior, circumvent our fears and embrace what lies beneath–what lies beyond. But doing so requires action. And action undoes fear.
Action needn’t be physical, of course–thinking is itself action, one of the greatest, I believe, and by controlling our thoughts, we change the fabric of the world itself, recoloring our perception and recreating the world as we want to see it. This is not delusional, but the mere force of conquering fear.
Fear, perhaps, is not a force to be conquered–but embraced.
I am in love with a man. A man as beautiful as a siren, as thoughtful as an angel, and as wholly and completely everything I could dream of sharing with another as I could imagine. So fear whispers to me, throwing stones at this fortress we share, firing burning arrows at chinks in the armor, trying to tear it apart.
I could wallow in my fears for days, endlessly, and rip myself apart in doing so. Instead I accept this fear as part of me, I consider where it might come from and what I might do to alleviate it. And then, most importantly, I share it with him. He comforts me, I realize my fears are unfounded, and our love is made perpetually stronger.
Sharing fear can be easy when another is involved, when a dialogue is possible. What about our other fears, our faceless fears? I’m afraid I’ve lost my love of math–what can I do to get it back? I’m afraid about finances and finding healthy food–what can I do to acquire what’s needed? I’m afraid of so many things–how can I fight them all?
The truth is, they don’t need fighting. Fear is passive, and just as we must accept our breathing and carry on with our lives, so too must we accept our fear and carry on.
We are creatures of action. The human race can be defined as ingenious and constructive, even when our ends seem nefarious or destructive. This is reflected in our language itself–the subject performs the action, rather than the action being performed on the subject. Even our mythologies uphold this ideal: Heroes rise from oppression and conquer evil–that which instills fear is defeated by that which brings love.
I like to call it a love bias.
An inclination toward action, toward love over fear.
The latter we will always have–the former must be embraced.
Otherwise, we have fallen under fear. And only hatred and anger can follow fear alone.
There’s a lesson in the Torah that says, whenever we are faced with a choice, to choose life. Choosing life is accepting love–relinquishing our fears for something greater.
And I believe we all have the potential to embrace love and be the greatest we can be.