Fear is an interesting word.
A combination of four letters, a stigma without the need of any additional information, a mental state that derives its form from any area of life it so chooses, fear is a tour de force of human communication. Fear is powerful, dangerous, foreboding, ominous. It is one of the many great points of pride of the English language, for what better for a word to achieve than the ability to weave an intricate medley of emotions into the mind without needing the addition of even a single letter?
Is the typically ascribed sensation of fear what fear is? Is fear, despite all its complexities of face and form, relatively one-dimensionally bleak?
I recently overheard a discussion of the use of the word "fear" in older works of literature and its translation from different languages into modern English. I'm not entirely sure what drew my mind to this exposition, but I know what kept it there. As the topic of conversation turned towards vocabulary association and flexibility, my interest was piqued when I learned that fear is actually heavily associated and has been interchangeable with a very specific kind of terminology. As I listened, I was given the word that is used in conjunction with fear to mean the very same thing.
Reverence, wonder, amazement, throw me your Thesaurus.com synonyms, it makes no difference. Each and every one of these has been used in significant written works of the past to stand in place of fear. This interchangeability speaks volumes to what fear itself was considered to mean in the past and perhaps what it should be explored as in the present.
See, fear can oftentimes seem in our lives to be, as I said before, wholly one-dimensional. It is the evocation of very specific, terrifying sensations and comes with a warning label of negativity plastered across its front. Fear is a stumbling block to the actions we wish to take in our lives. Fear is the excuse for inactivity, the controller to our daily going-through-the-motions adventures. Fear is...well, it's fear.
But for just one moment, just one small moment in time, imagine fear as being more than its stigma.
Think of fear as a moment of awe. It is daunting awe, the kind you can't explain. You lack the words to even begin to describe this sense of wonder building, and you lack the willingness to attempt to explain it. You are simply living in and experiencing the moment. This fear is a recognition of power, admiration towards the might of the obstacle being faced. You have no idea what your composure should be around this thing that so happens to cause you so much awe, and frankly, you lost it ages ago. Your mind pays homage with its attention.
If fear is an awe so magnificent I lack the coherency with which to describe it, then shouldn't I choose very wisely which pieces and parts of my life I want to say I fear? And if fear is an awe this magnificent, then shouldn't I stop allowing it to control my thoughts so negatively?
From the oldest of manuscripts, fear has been considered awe, a sense of beauteous wonderment. Fear should not be something that stops me in my tracks or derails my life goals. It should motivate me, inspire me, encourage me to look closer, to try harder.
I am tired of falling prey to letting fear run wild through my life in such a predictably miserable pattern. Instead, I want to face the things that terrify me and see only something to respect, learn from, and move through. I want to decide what is worthy of true awe and leave behind things that only cause fear because I let them get the best of me or I let myself overthink them. It is hard to break the mind of an ingrained habit. But that won't keep me from trying to remember what fear means. What fear has been. What fear will be.
I will embrace my fears with awe and with respect. I will set aside the trivial bits of life I allow to get to me all too often. I will view fear as a challenge, a mountain to climb, a privilege to face.
Fear is an interesting word. I will strive to keep from going back to what it meant before. I will respect it for how it can enrich my life now. And I will work to keep it from stopping me ever again.