So I was driving to Sydney a little while ago.
I had to go see the dentist.
Already I had two fears –
1) going to the dentist, which is terrifying under normal circumstances, much less during a pandemic, and 2) driving to Sydney, which I saw as being a seething cesspool of nuclear-grade COVID-19 – certainly a way more dangerous place than the small country town of Mudgee which is where I live, four hours drive away.
So I was driving to Sydney, battling my fears.
And there was a truck in front of me on the country highway.
And this truck was kicking up stones.
Then, sure enough, suddenly I heard a CRACK.
A stone had hit my windscreen.
I passed the truck, then I checked the windscreen and, sure enough, I found a mark on the windscreen.
My fears began to run amok.
My windscreen was going to crack.
It was going to shatter.
I would need to get it repaired.
That would mean staying in Sydney because there were no repairers in Mudgee could do the job. And probably the repairer would be asymptomatic COVID-19 and I would get infected. Which means I would die a horrible lonely death because being over 65, I am in a high risk category. But before dying I would infect my beautiful wife and beautiful children and they would die horrible lonely deaths too.
I was a mess.
And I hadn’t even got to the dentist yet.
I stopped in the next town and checked the mark on the windscreen.
It wasn’t cracked – the mark was bird poop.
I scraped it off, washed my hands for 20 seconds, and kept driving.
And I mused at how fear works.
The fear I had was imagined fear. All the fears I had were imagined fears. The visit to the dentist, whilst discomforting for a short while, was painless. Sydney was not full of Walking Dead virus infected super-spreaders. I got in, I got out, I drove home and I didn’t die.
But my mind, left unchecked, had gone to the darkest places. It had been fascinating to watch. The mark on the windscreen hadn’t been the start of my windscreen shattering, it had been bird poop.
There’d been no need for me to slip into fear.
But slip I did.
In fact I tumbled head first.
And it occurred to me that I held other fears that were imaginary too.
And they were bird poop too.
When I examined any fear I had, it turned out to be bird poop.
Here’s what I do with fear:
I look at the worst case scenario, and then I ask myself honestly: Can I deal with that? And invariably, I figure that I can indeed deal with it. And then the fear goes away. I scrape the bird poop off the windscreen.
What’s the worst possible scenario?
That I die.
I’m not scared of dying.
I know that this body is just leased, short term.
And at some point, that lease is going to end.
And then I’ll find another body to lease.
I’d prefer not to spend weeks in a hospital suffering.
I still have work to do.
Watch out soon for an announcement on a resource I’ll be launching –
The Facing Fear Interviews.
Here’s where my fear took me when I saw that mark on my windscreen –