I wonder if when F.D. Roosevelt spoke the immortal words in his inauguration, “The only thing we have to fear is fear…” he had any idea that it would become such a maxim in our culture. The funny thing is though, although we all have heard and said the phrase, I’m not sure we understand it or believe it. Multiple times in the past few days I’ve been struck by the image of the elephant trainers in India. These elephants are trained (sometimes barbarically, from what I understand) to know that the shackle around their ankle keeps them from running away at risk of great pain and suffering. This lesson sinks in so well that by the time the elephants are fully trained, you can tie a rope around their leg and fasten it to a little stick in the ground and the elephant won’t run away. Even though it totally could.
I just can’t get this image out of my mind! I’ve been talking to all sorts of different people lately who say things like “I wish…” “If only…” “I would…but I’m scared….” They are held in place, a place they don’t like, by only fear. Fear of losing what they have or fear of not getting what they want. This is as heartbreaking when it comes to people as it is for the elephants (or more so, depending on your world view). Why are we so willing to settle or not try something new just because of something we imagine might happen? This, I would venture, is an improper use of our imaginations! Face it, we don’t get all that much time on this planet, and the worst that can happen to us is that we will die, and no one gets out alive anyway. And even then, we stop ourselves from enjoying the life we were meant to have, were called to have, because we are afraid of…something. I believe life is much like fiction though, in that the only thing that can break through the fear is great pain or greater fear. Sometimes that’s what it takes to just go for it. It’s tremendous fun to find out what it’s going to take to make a character take action, but admittedly less so to experience it “IRL” as they say.