On the heels of viewing the new film entitled "Waiting for Superman" by the award winning David Guggenheim, Jamil walks into my office, puts down his i-phone and proclaims: "I'd run for the school board, if I could. I knew we were in trouble with the schools. It was bad enough in Kenya, so we came here. But, frankly, I had no idea how bad the problem really is in the States. I thought we were protected because we're in a good neighborhood. I don't want to admit it, but I was wrong. These kids need help, and I've always been sort of a 'do-gooder.' But I don't have time." Jamil is a 47-year-old high-powered corporate exexcutive in the Internet game. He continues: "After I retire, I'll look into doing something. There are people on the Board, just like the city council, who don't know their foot from a frisbie. Right now, I just don't have time. It's frightening, though." Fear grows whenever we refuse to face it squarely.
Nancy, who is a transplant from London, postpones her own plan: " Now I don't know what to do about my 50th birthday trip. I've got my tickets to Paris, and then back home to London. But now, with this 'terrorist chatter streaming' (whatever that means), I'm going to wait until next year. You just never know. The government gives such a mixed message, like 'don't worry, but stay cautious.' What's that supposed to mean? Is this another 'just go shopping' message to get the economy back in shape? I don't know what or who to believe." Fear of the unknown leads to procrastination.
Neither does Jon. This Amsterdam man knows his heart's desire, and describes it: "What I'd really like to do is write the screen play, the way I want, and go to the intensive with Robert Redford next July, but the probability of me having anything accepted is next to 'nil.' They wouldn't like what I want to write, anyway. Who am I kidding?" Like Nancy and Jamil, this past week, Jon talks himself out of what he really wants, before he's barely 'out of the gate.' Fear gnaws away at our heart's desire, if we let it. Like many of us, Jon is unwittingly colluding in keeping fear alive. Each of the three, in the past week alone, is deadening their dream.
How about you? How do you and I defeat ourselves when we've only just begun? What is it that really makes us hesitate, beneath our cover story? And why do we hesitate to tell the truth about our fear? Why do we 'fake it?' Just check out the latest survey of American sexual experience for a slant on this, where 64 percent of American women said that they reached orgasm the last time they were intimate, versus the 85 percent of men who said their most recent female partner reached climax. Why the different report? Is it because men are not 'seeing' the truth of their partner's experience? (see "How Well Do You See What's in Front of Your Nose? 5 Steps You Can Take to Get Back on Track") Are their partners 'faking it', or is it the male inflation that tells the story?
If so, why? We fear we will be found lacking. Notice how the very thought makes the ego squirm. We forget who we really are is enough. Hence, the politician wants to please, be seen as extraordinary, fearless, above the pack. There's a hint from the dare devils in Australia seen on youtube jumping a volcano in Amyran Island, posing in full-blown testosterone, as if immune from potential boiling lava, should a fall occur. Watch the dared-devil mud slinging as November draws closer, and it's time to vote again in the U.S.A..
We do our best to show the world our best, for fear of what might be the consequence were we to admit we are 'in wobble'. The fact is that America, as is the rest of the world, is wobbling. Why is it that we fear the same vulnerability the earth endures, autumn after autumn, year after year? Without shedding what's no longer needed, new growth will never come. In the forest, maybe thirty yards away, maple and oak shed their leaves, unresisting. We, on the other hand, fight 'tooth and nail' being bared, ourselves.
By seeking refuge in our cover-up stories, we are saying that we dare not run the risk of expressing our simple truth, and truest nature. We fear it will not be enough. Hence, worsening smear campaigns with each election. Everywhere we look, politicians hesitate from communicating their position without inflammatory remarks about their opponent. They are a rude reminder of our shadow selves, reflecting something not-so-pleasant. We are afraid we are not loved 'as is.'
What we need, more than anything, is to cultivate faith in who we are, and to what we aspire. The first step, as the season reminds us, is to let go of what no longer has life, including our habitual excuses, and fears. We need to come out of our hiding places, and the tendency for magical thinking that some day an insurance plan will arrive announcing it's 'safe' to move forward, and dare to do what we've been postponing that's in the truth in our hearts. And meanwhile? We need to forgive ourselves for our fumblings, our mistakes, our angry words, our ignorance, our pretense. We need to begin anew, announcing to the world that we are here, as is, in very human form, wanting to become better partners to what's before us, desiring to leave this place better off than we found it. There's something to be said about the adage: "If you shoot for the moon and don't make it, at least you'll end up in the stars." The important thing is not to give up on what prompts you to partnership. Says poet Mary Oliver:
"I want to be
With the universe
Like the tiger lily
Its gorgeous head
Among the so-called
In the uncultivaterd fields
That still abide.
But it's okay
If, after all,
I'm not a lily,
But only grass
In a clutch of curly grass
Waving in the wind,
Staring sunward: one of those
Sweet, abrasive blades."
3 Steps You Can Take to Get 'Back in the Saddle' When Intimidated by Fear:
1. Practice cultivating a friendship with the Unknown for at least 30 minutes a day. If you must procrastinate, procrastinate procrastination for 30 minutes a day.
2. Face your fear squarely when it rears it's ugly head today. Notice what hooks you. Apply 'hook-us' interuptus in the following way. For 30 seconds, close your eyes. Breathe. Imagine your fear washing through your system, and release it.
3. Reconnect with your heart's desire every morning before you get up. Begin with recalling your gratitude for the microscopic. Move on to gratitude for what is in your heart prompting you to action. Nourish yourself by remembering that you are not what you do, or fail to do. You are loved for being you. Give yourself a 'high five' in the mirror before you get dressed. Watch what happens!
Bonus step: check out the following: waitingforsuperman.com to see what you can do in your area if, like Jamil, the educational crisis speaks to you.
What helps you shift from fear to courage? Where would you like to 'get back in the saddle?' Where would you like to deepen your partnership in your world?
For updates, contact me at carabarker.net, or dr.carabarker@gmail To save time, click on Become A Fan. Stay tuned for upcoming developments with The Love Project, including "Practicing Love." Follow Dr. Cara Barker on www.twitter.com/DrCaraBarker.
HuffPost Lifestyle is a daily newsletter that will make you happier and healthier — one email at a time. Learn more