Fear Was My Compass

by Jeen Wopat

During my growing up years and until my mid-thirties or so, I was generally regarded by myself and others as a pretty fearless person. I’d do physically daring things and put myself out there socially and emotionally much of the time as well. I had never had a reason to suspect that my fearlessness was anything other than genuine.

It was after becoming a mom that things started to change for me. It all started innocently enough. In passionately desiring to protect my daughter from physical harm, I began assessing all of her activities from the vantage point of possible danger. Well, you don’t have to live on this planet long to figure out that you can eventually connect possible danger or harm to just about anything you’d ever want to do!

So what actually happened over time was I trained my mind to look for danger in every situation. If I could make the connection, which I nearly always could, I’d create some "protective intervention" that would comfort or assuage my fears to an acceptable level. And keep in mind that this habit of looking for danger, because it had developed in conjunction with parenting, appeared to me to be not only reasonable, but responsible!

Eighteen or nineteen years later my daughter and I emerged from our mother/daughter chrysalis, she as a magnificent butterfly and I as a somewhat tattered moth. As I began my new life of personal freedom with my fantastic and fearless husband, little did I know that I was bringing my "fear-of-danger-habit" along with me. It was all so subtle! Once again I found that I was evaluating activities and situations from the point of view of fear. But since I no longer had protecting my daughter as the "reasonable ground" upon which to stand, I created a new ground—protecting myself for my daughter, because wouldn’t it be damaging to her if her mother died while she was still young?!

This point of view was in full force and actively running my life until I met "Emma." One day I came in from the backyard of our new-to-us home and saw a skink (type of lizard) scuttling down the hall toward our meditation room. In horror I followed it into the room where I pretended to be relaxed and cool, telling it that it had to get out of the house. While it took refuge in the Buddha and after I failed to coax it into a trap, I repaired to the living room where I decided that "I could no longer live in this house!" Of course, I had to keep living in this house, so I spent two wretched days creeping around with my eyes fixed on the floor lest I see that "terrifying skink" again.

That did it! That’s when the best part of my mind came through and tossed me some great rhetorical questions, such as "How can you be fearful of a creature that probably weighs less than a slice of cheese, is non-venomous and couldn’t bite you if it wanted to, has a nature 100 times more shy than yours, and was forced through your aggression to take refuge in the Buddha?" I suddenly and clearly saw that my longtime habit of using fear as my compass was absolutely absurd!

From this episode on I began to meditate, contemplate, and pray about fear in my life. One of the first things I did was to create a personal relationship with the skink, whom I named Emma and who I have seen several times since. [I believe she has in and out privileges.] I’ve thanked her for coming to help me see and work with fear, a very powerful force in my mental and emotional bodies. I’m still a long way from being free from it, but at least now I have a new approach and mental framework for assessing situations and activities. Rather than use fear as my compass I ask my beloved Ascended Master to perfectly and precisely guide my every choice and decision so that the absolute highest good is served. And you know, I’m having a much more joyful trip!

Copyright 1999, A&O Syzygy, all rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce in any form.