Here are portions of the April 4 podcast episode. You can hear me read the whole essay through the link. It is outdated already, I wrote it barely three weeks ago. But part of this whole podcast diary thing is to keep a record and I’m willing to say things have changed, even while looking back at what I thought before. That’s part of the process. I’m done with stories that are told from the end point, where everything is wrapped up and has nice conclusions. I’m fascinated by the process, by other people’s processes. That shows how we grow and change and that gives me hope.
If this is too heavy for you, for now, check out our hard rock video (though I have heard it made people cry – different kind of cry) or the episode offering tips on how to wipe your butt without toilet paper.
…What concerns me is the power of corporate fear in the West, specifically in my native country, the USA, the way fear drives people into isolation, ethnocentrism, and self-centered hoarding. The way fear erases empathy and skews common sense.
What concerns me are the answers to these questions: What are we afraid of? What does fear do to relationships? What are we going to do with our fear?
We already live in an age of suspicion, prejudice, and isolation, fueled by anxiety and misplaced faith in the fragile façade that we are, or should be, invincible.
In the West, we worship the god of safety but this god can make no promises. This is a god crafted out of our own delusions. Delusions that we are stronger alone, that we are not interconnected and interdependent, that health corresponds to morality or superiority, that we are in control, and ultimately, that we will get out of this whole thing alive and unharmed if we only prepare well enough.
These delusions reveal an underlying ambition of making ourselves into God. Or, if we can’t be God ourselves, we demand our politicians play the role. Then we are free to abdicate responsibility for our own choices, our own cruelty, our own neglect of the refugee and the homeless, our own rampaging of the planet, our greed and selfishness.
What our human made systems have to offer will not save us. Build the walls. Close the borders. Shut your doors. Buy all the toilet paper and canned beans. Be afraid. Don’t concern yourself with your diabetic neighbor, your friend who needs chemo medications, your coworker with high blood pressure. Save yourself. And if you can’t, find someone to blame…
…You probably know what the flu feels like, maybe you even know what COVID-19 feels like. Do you know what fear feels like? Have you ever taken note of how your body responds in moments of fear? Pay attention.
Fear is a tunnel that grows increasingly narrow the longer I remain inside. Vision constricts until I can only see what is directly in front of me, no peripheral sight. My body constricts, too, pulls in on itself as if it were trying to physically avoid contact with fear. Sounds blend into a cacophony and it is difficult to discern specific voices or words. I experience what I anticipate because that is all I can absorb.
Fear is a dull ache in my lower back, as though my kidneys are slowly expanding and putting increasing pressure on my skin. It is marbles, the big glossy shooters my kids collected in elementary school, lodged above my clavicle. Fear is a long, lumpy worm, wriggling in my stomach and disturbing the contents of my lunch…
In some ways, fear is like hope. Experienced in the body, resting upon uncertainty, looking to the future with anticipation.