Dare you express your greatest fear?

Your core fear, the fear upon which the other little fears nurse like kittens to mother cat?

Fear that lurks at the core of you, slinking behind dark shadows, blowing smoke halos toward dim light?

Way down here, in the unconscious of your cavern, hides your greatest fear with its mirror tricks reflecting in the light far above.  Watch for snakes!  Boa constrictors live here, and don’t tell me they’re not frightening.

They’re not frightening only if you’ve conceptualized them or read stories like “Swiss Family Robinson” in which the marooned and shipwrecked father penetrates the skull of the constrictor with gunshot and the serpent dies forever.

But wait!  The serpent is re-born as a bear, a cougar, your cigarette, your judgments, your anger, your inner shame, your guilt, your ego which won’t obey the conscription of your higher self.

My deepest fear~~I shall whisper it here.  I am afraid of “nothing to do”.  It’s a fear born in childhood, perhaps in past life nightmares of dying in a small locked box, unable to move. 

A dozen times a day (on dark days sometimes a hundred) the niggling voice announces, “There is nothing to do” and something inside panics and propels and scurries toward something–anything–oh, god, anything–to prevent the inevitable suffering and suffocating.

So I create.

I garden, dance, connect, take pictures, offer words of wisdom, travel (oh, yes, travel!) 

The fear is a propellant, a gift, a piece of composted soil out of which creation thrives. 

But how much of my action is a response and how much a reaction?  How much comes from a desire to do–to hide from the serpent–and how much comes from an honest movement?

Do not try to reassure.  Please.  We all have our demons.  If you haven’t found yours, it’s still hidden and enjoy your day or perhaps lucky lifetime.

Once, years ago, I had a fatal argument with a friend.

“It’s all suffering,” she sighed.

I looked askance.

“It’s all joy!” I replied, feeling the joy underneath the suffering, the truth of the joy.

We actually parted ways soon after, a wedge in our relationship.  I couldn’t really see the suffering and she couldn’t really perceive the joy.

Later–because life always turns its lazy movement of the seasons, over and over again–I met my inner serpent and now~~


It’s all joy, underneath it.  Surrounding it, penetrating it.  It is what is real.  However the suffering, our core suffering, remains like a thorn in our tender palm, red and oozing, until something in us truly perceives that which is larger than the sliver, wider than the palm, more expansive than the body, more inclusive than everything you can see or hear or think in this very moment.

Sometimes I glimpse it, and sometimes the glimpse lasts for a while.  You see it all very clearly, the divine play of it. 

Other times I am lost in the core fear, the frightened inner child, that which somehow can’t escape the box of a thousand nightmares.  It doesn’t realize that the box is cardboard and it can fall away in an instant.

It can fall away now, dear reader.

Let it.


23 thoughts on “Fear

    • Oh Laurie, it sounds like your practice works for you! How I have often wanted to have this practice~~and have admired people with whom it works. Whose deepest selves whisper “yes, set your fear down, step up to joy.” I had a dream an eon ago where I was advised to go into the snake’s throat and be swallowed by it. On the other end was Jesus with open arms. Every time I try to avoid being swallowed, more suffering ensues.

      On the other hand, I so often discover that when it seems like people are saying something different–we’re often saying the same thing, in different words. Perhaps we’re doing the same thing with only a slightly different emphasis. I do so admire what you’re creating with your life!

  1. Ah yes. I lived in abject terror for several days, several years ago. Down there, on the cellular level, on the level of my life energy. Terror was the air I breathed, it glowed in every thought and movement.
    Never did really “know” what that was about, I speculate it was the terror of the “self” which exists, whose identity is built with, the illusion of separation, which was “dying.”
    I suspect “doing nothing” = “going out of existence.” Since that self is built on HAVING to do “something.”
    I’m not done with that deep terror yet. I looooove your metaphors for how it infuses and shows up in and as all our other fears. I recognized all that!!
    And yet, we do have our moments in which it’s minimal, and being who we really are, seems just wonderful and no problemo, eh?

    My sense in myself these days is that the deep terror is also due to the experience/illusion of being separated from my power to create. It feels like a total separation, though it is partial. But I “remember” my full power to create, and this experience within separation-illusion is utterly terrifying: to exist at the mercy of “other” over which I have no power. To be powerless and helpless in a universe which can snuff out my physical life… It’s an exiistential kind of terror, not “fear” of any particular danger.

    I’m so glad you are talking about this, Kathy. It’s so very often totally ignored in spiritual circles, as if speaking about it gives it more power. The opposite is true. Attention and emotional energy are creative, but resistance is also creative attention and emotional energy. Fine line, seeming paradox.
    I love you!

    • OM, thank you. Thank you for sharing the terror that you have experienced. I have discovered that the closer I seem to get to realizing the “no-self” the higher the inner terror arises. It IS an existential kind of terror, a terror in which part of the self sees itself disappearing and is fighting tooth and nail to prevent that happening, perhaps.

      I wanted to talk about this because it’s so easy to talk about the joy and peace and the no-self and other ideals, but so often we traverse a “dark night of the soul” at this stage of our life. In many ways–ever since that experience on my birthday two years ago–I feel like I’ve spiralled into a Dark Night at deep levels, while on the surface an amazing amount of cheerfulness and happiness and joy keeps arising.


  2. Kathy, my greatest life-long fear was always the thought of losing my mother. I thought my own life would end with hers, when her time came. But guess what? She’s been ‘gone’ for nearly eighteen years and not only did I survive, but losing her has made me a stronger person. I HAD to learn how to survive.

    When I say my mother is ‘gone’, I know she isn’t really, it’s just her body that I don’t see anymore. And that’s okay. I cope with that.

    Since being forced to learn how to be strong enough to conquer my greatest fear, I have overcome many other small fears also, the most notable being my fear of birds. I spent my childhood having constant nightmares about them. Then one day, just over a year ago now, a beautiful parrot who I call Charlie, came into my life. His soul touched mine and we connect on a spiritual level. Sounds crazy, huh?!

    Basically, what I have learned is that when you have a fear, that fear is real and no one has the right to tell you it isn’t. If you are destined to live with the fear for all of the days of your life in this body, then so be it. But leaving yourself open to conquering your fear, if the opportunity arises, and doing so, leaves you feeling as if you have just climbed the highest mountain!

    You’re right, it doesn’t hurt to talk about your fears. Life isn’t all rosey all of the time and by talking about these matters you could even help another person. You are very brave in doing so and I enjoyed reading what you have said here. Your insight, as always, is remarkable. Thank you, Kathy. xxx

    • Joanne, thank you for your comment and sharing about your own fears. I can’t imagine losing my mother. It’s not a fear, but a sadness that rises thinking about it. So happy to hear that you were able to overcome the fear about your mother, and the birds. Love that Charlie came into your life!

      I have had a fear of heights and Barry got me on the roof several times and that has mostly abated. Have mostly overcome many garden-variety fears like snakes, and crossing bridges and others.

      This fear feels deep deep in the unconscious. Just slowly but surely bringing it to the light, over and over again. Sometimes it even disappears for days or months!

      I am glad you enjoyed this.

  3. Beautiful Kath!

    It is all unconditionally allowed anyway yes?
    Even points of view that life is suffering.
    The most horrible to the most beautiful and everything in between.
    This is totally verifiable.
    They are just points of view.

    Opening to the darkness within
    even inner demons
    need a breath of fresh air
    Sometimes, they even go away.

    Other times, they strike up a tune,
    and have a ribald party the likes of which
    we have never seen.

    Whatever they do,
    or don’t do
    at some
    point seems to matter
    less and less.

    They kick the dirt
    and decide to take a long nap….
    til the next Halloween party
    and the next shadow
    comes out to play.

    The light wants to dance
    with its opposite.
    It cannot resist such a wild lover!

    Great Post!

    • Thank you, Ben~~so glad you enjoyed. You always point to that which is larger than fear, that which allows fear, that which just is. It’s such a relief when it starts mattering less and less. Thank you, again.

  4. This blog, particularly your exclamations, which you called doing nothing, can cause me to spin. Which came first chicken or egg OIE!!!! I wonder at me needing to know the difference between such reacting vs response. Sometimes it is VERY important to know, other times just rather irrelevant chatter or spin. (for me at least) So, I need/want to think more before I answer.

    • I’m afraid, dear Elisa, that this entire blog is often a head-spinning enterprise. That’s because, sometimes, when the head is sent spinning in two seemingly-opposite directions at once, it cannot handle the seeming polarity and it just stops. Just stops. The head-spinning is a catapult into silence and not-knowing.

      Interesting what you say–that reacting versus responding may not be a big deal. Thank you. (and only answer if something arises.)

  5. Kathy, I’ve been face to face with fear too. Again. After a long stretch of hibernation. Can fear hibernate?….feels like a good decsription.

    I’ve come to know mine as a gatekeeper, of sorts. And I know that I’m still, on the deepest level, afraid of this fear, maybe more than anything else. Trying to sink into it this time, accept it for what it is, not try to change it. A gatekeeper/guardian, not a demon. But so uncomfortable……..

    • Colleen, I do think fear hibernates. Who knows why? I also agree with you that it’s a sacred gatekeeper. I honor you for your courage to recognize your fear–and state it aloud. It IS a guardian. I feel that. I also feel that with the eventual releasing of this fear it will simply be the naked moment. It keeps up its staff until the moment comes to lower it, and to welcome us in.

  6. Pingback: What Do You Do With Fear? « Speaking from the Heart

  7. Hi, Kathy — came here by way of Laurie’s blog about fear. I wonder if you are speaking of fear and anxiety as being the same thing; I am afraid of being anxious . . .


    I fear feeling bad . . . physically, mentally, and emotionally. I always want to feel good, happy, joyful, but life is not built that way. I don’t like anxiety and will do just about anything to make sure I can avoid it. Even that makes me anxious.

    This fear/anxiety came about when I consciously realized that nobody is really in charge here on earth. Nobody. We all live together in a kind of resigned consensus because we can’t figure out what else to do. Somewhere, I imagine that someone must be running things but the further I get along in this life, the more I realize the transparency of that illusion.

    • Barbara, yes, I think I am talking about fear and anxiety as the same thing. It feels like anxiousness/fear, an uneasy feeling, a nervousness, a not-knowing. It is not pleasant and I have been afraid of it too.

      It is so interesting to me that we come to this gate of anxiety deep inside through different routes. Your path was from that feeling of no one being in charge; the resignation. Mine was from the “nothing to do”.

      I don’t know if it’s true, but I su suspect that reconciling and moving through and integrating this core fear is what leads us deeper into the realization of our selves. That when we truly penetrate the illusion we will realize that our fear/anxiety was a house of sticks that we constructed…and that what exists beyond shows us we need to do/control nothing and yet everything is done/controlled/breathed anyway.


  8. Simply here, stopping by thanks to our friend Laurie! What a wonderful visually stimulating account of that inner deep fear. We all have it, such is also seems not everyone wants to deal with it. How strange of a demon fear can be…but in acknowledging its very existence we can rid ourselves of the illusion that we are fine. Thanks!! LOVE IT.

    • Dear Rose Bandit, Sometimes it seems to me that we are here to walk a path through our deepest inner demons, in whatever way feels most appropriate to us, until we see that they are really stick-figures created of Mind, and then to watch them fall apart back into the emptiness of what they always were. But when we’re in the midst of them, they surely don’t feel like phantom stick-figures. They feel like flesh and blood demons at times. It sounds like you are one who has chosen to walk the path of discovery, and I honor you as another sister of the journey.

  9. Excellent post Kathy, I especially related to the having to do something, anything (especially travel) and loved this line; “The fear is a propellant, a gift, a piece of composted soil out of which creation thrives” – awesome visual I get w/this line. Thank you so much for raising the energy around this much ‘feared’ topic.

    • Alison, thank you. You’ve been scooted about in life by your fear, as well, it sounds like. And yet out of that you’ve created and birthed and given so much to the world. I am glad to share if it exposes some of our dark unconsciousness to the light. (Even though this was a little scary for me.)

  10. Wow. I just stumbled across this blog after searching for blogs about ‘life’ This just resonated with me greatly! I have been battling an anxiety, unknown fear, I feel like almost a 1/4 life crisis, not knowing what to do next…And this just gave me an ‘AHA’ moment! I am terrified of having nothing to do. No one to take care of. Nothing to get through. Wow, I never thought of it like this… What I am trying to do now is sit with the nothing, listen to myself, be comfortable and grateful that there is nothing going on. Thanks Kathy!

    • Kaitlots, my heart delights in your words! One of my friends/teachers thanked me for sharing this fear as well. Her brilliant six year old daughter came to her in terror the other day. “I have nothing to do, I don’t know what to do!” the child cried. My friend remembered our conversations and was able to simply and gently tell her, “It’s OK to have nothing to do. It’s wonderful. Let’s just snuggle here and do nothing.” The little girl relaxed and went off playing in a short while. Just think…what if some wise person had taught us the delight of “nothing to do”? Now we shall have to teach ourselves that. Much love…

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