(Excerpt with permission of the author):
"Only the boldest among us can acknowledge the role that fear plays in their lives. The bold are like those captives freed from Plato's cave -- they are no longer servants to ignorance. If you are governed by fear -- and who is not -- and if you can acknowledge what it does to you, what it costs you and others for whom you care, and even the world to which you owe your best being, then you at last know, really know, to whom your final obligation belongs.If you are still afraid, imagine your tombstone: "Here lies one who was not here, one who did not show up!" That is something to really fear; compared to this, our daily fears are trivial.Every day, dual demons show up to make us miserable. One is fear, as we have seen, and the other is lethargy, a sweet, sibilant, seductive, susurrus that summons us to sleep. How easy to fall back into the sleep of innocence, naivete, fundamentalism of one kind or another, avoidance, rationalization, and self-deception. These demons are the enemy of life.Yet nature has provided us with an energy greater than these intimidating and seductive beasts, if we but call upon it. What we call "the archetype of the hero" is the specific constellation of energy whose task is the overthrow of darkness. When we see, for example, images of St. George and the dragon, what is he fighting? How many dragons have you seen? What is a dragon? A dragon is an archetypal, universal image representing the devouring fearfulness of life -- that which would destroy you, or swallow you, or take you back to the cave. Sound familiar? Fear, and lethargy! So, the hero energy in you is nature's answer to the diminution and extinction of life. We are called to fight the dragon, slay its power. The dragon shows up every day, no worse for the wear, and ready to scare you back into a corner of your life, to swallow you, and to annihilate the life energy you are supposed to incarnate in this world. Whatever we are running from will sooner or later back us into the corner anyway. Sometimes, the things we fear show up in the flurry and flux of daily life, and sometimes at the hour of the wolf when we awaken to discover that not even sleep helps us hide. As poet Fleur Adcock expressed it:It is 5 a.m. All the worse things come stalking inAnd stand icily about the bed looking worse and worse and worse.(Adcock, "Things," Poems: 1960-2000)So, then, now you know your task: to become what the gods want, not what your parents want, not what your tribe wants, but what the gods want, and what your psyche will support if consciousness so directs. A person who can undertake a conscientious inventory will be stunned to learn how much his or her life is driven by fear, as well as the many devices we evolve to manage it. Such a person then knows, really knows, what his or her life asks. The meaning of our life will be found precisely in our capacity to achieve as much of it as is possible beyond those bounds fear would set for us. There is no blame in being fearful; it is our common lot, our common susceptibility. But it may be a crime, an impiety against the gods, when our individual summons, our destiny, is diverted or destroyed by fear. For those of us who can address this inventory, our mantra, summons, and daily discipline becomes: That Life Not Be Governed by Fear. "
James Hollis, PhD, from
Shock and Awe: That Life Not Be Governed by Fear, pages 13-15