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On Fear...

Fear has taken hold in a big way recently.  How much fear is healthy?  What happens when it takes over and leaves you afraid to leave your house?  To look       a neighbor in the eye and smile?     This brought an early experience to mind...  

I grew up in a small town town out west and then lived in rural eastern Canada.     Then, when I was 25, I moved to NYC ...by myself...as a single woman.  Talk about culture shock!!  It was a big move for a timid young woman!  I didn't dare tell my parents...it would have scared them to death.  I put on a brave face and made my way into this intimidating new world.  Once settled in my apartment, well-meaning native New Yorkers taught me the ropes.  "You need more locks on your doors!  4-5 at least! You'd better put bars in all your windows.  Don't go out at night!  Don't go here!  Don't go there!  Carry pepper spray, etc. etc."  It was a veritable chorus of warnings.  Well...I took all their advice.  It was a dangerous world out there, after all!  I listened and learned.  It wasn't long before I found myself riddled with fear.  I hardly ventured out except for necessities. Sound familiar?    What started out as an exciting new experience soon became an unhappy misery.  In a couple months time, I went from happy and eager to be in NY to being overwhelmed with fear and cringing in my self-made prison.   I began to wonder what was the point of being in NYC if all I was going to do was cower inside in distress?  Something had to give!   I realized I had let that heavy mantle of fear take over my life.  And if I was going to have any real experience of NYC, I was going to have to throw it off.    But that was easier said then done!   I had to take back my life, point by point and find my way back to freedom and sanity.  Each day, I chose one fear and I challenged it.     "Don't go here!'  I went there.  "Don't go there!"   Well, I screwed up the courage and went there, too.  "Don't go out after dark!"  Out I went.  It wasn't easy, but I had to reclaim every bit of ground I had relinquished to fear.  By undoing the damage,  I was able to see how fear had crept in and taken over.   Over the course of a few months, I was going anywhere and everywhere at any reasonable hour and I got my life back...and my good experience of NY!                                                             As you live life, there will be times when you will encounter new fears.  And you will have to decide what you will do with those fears.  Fear of the future, fear of change, fear of getting older, fear of losing loved ones, etc.  For some it will be easier.  More timid souls will struggle.  I have learned bravery.  It didn't come naturally.                                                                                                                           When I came to this community, I found people to be relatively more fearful.      It's often just a lack of experience and a more settled experience with few challenges to the status quo.  It scares people when I go overseas, when I travel by myself, when I don't know anyone at my destination.  It's hard to explain that it's going to be alright.  The world is a wonderful place, there are many good people everywhere you go!  There is nothing to fear but fear itself most of the time!           It hurts me to see our good local people so overcome with fear these days. Whipped into it by the media for ratings.  Fear is destabilizing and debilitating.     It doesn't empower.  It makes life small and mean and hopeless.                             Try challenging it...do your own research, come to your own conclusions and get your life back.   Fear is a dangerous thing to dance with...  Refuse to be a puppet on their strings.  And if you're feeling brave enough, demand real news coverage, real numbers and real science.  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.      "You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free."