Why are you still scared?

Mummy, why are you still scared?

20131121-160744.jpgThis almost made me stop in my tracks. I say “almost” as we were crossing the road at a busy bus station, so stopping would have been a rather bad plan, but it made my thinking stop dead in its tracks.

I had been rattling on to my dear, patient daughter, about some books that we had nearly, almost, left behind on the train. Missy M had stashed library books behind the seats when creating a den in the suitcase area (as you do on a long train journey). As chance would have it, I suddenly thought of them as we were about to get off. For the next 5 minutes I continued ranting on about how lucky we were to have remembered them. Didn’t she realise they were not ours? Does she have any idea the price to replace 5 English reading books in Switzerland….blah, blah, blah.

This made no sense in child logic land. We had remembered the books. We were off the train. End of. Why was I still scared about losing books I clearly had in my rucksack?

This makes no sense in any land. The event was over. Past. Yet I was still there, back on the train, rather than being in the moment, crossing a manic rush hour bus station.

And this leads to a deeper question: why was I scared? I didn’t consider myself to be a person that was scared, but being brutally honest with myself, it was clear that I was indeed, scared. Are library books inherently scary? I had never contemplated that my thoughts would be one of “being scared”, yet there I was, being scared.

And that is how easy it is to get scared. Scared to be late; scared that an envelope might contain a huge bill; scared for our children’s health; scared by the newspapers. Envelopes, newspapers and library books are not, inherently, scary things. They don’t leap out of cupboards shouting “BOO!” It is our thinking about them – what it might mean for us, that starts a story in our minds – we scare ourselves each and every day. If we see that it is us, rather than library books, that are making us scared, we unmask the true nature of “scary, and “scary” isn’t nearly as scary any-more.


The presence of fear means only that fear is present, and nothing more
– Zen Buddhist teacher Suzanne Segal


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