Essay: Afraid of Everything

Dec 11, 2020

On a sunny river bank, a deer is sleeping—but when our canoe glides past, she leaps up and bounds into the woods.  We pose no threat to the deer, but she doesn’t know that.  So, she has to be afraid of everything in order to be afraid of the right things.

As I pick up my paddle, I think of how much of my own life I’ve been afraid—mostly of the wrong things.  Afraid of things that never happened or weren’t as bad as I feared.  Or afraid of things that turned out to be wonderful.

Knowing this, however, doesn’t keep me from worrying.  Worrying about the big things like death and taxes, illness and loss.  Worrying about the little things like getting my teeth cleaned and finding a parking place.

As if worrying gives me some kind of control over events.  As if worrying protects me—or, failing that, prepares me for the worst.  It doesn’t, of course.  Sometimes I give myself a break.  “Just for today, I won’t worry—knowing I can begin again tomorrow.” 

Then I stand my ground on a sunny river bank and watch the world go by.  Notice how beautiful it is.