There is an entire world out there—
There is a quiet street just outside my front door. The sun is coming up as I write to you. I can see the outline of the trees through the window in my loft, which appear black in the contrast of the dark grayish sky.
Currently, the moment is silent. All I can hear is the sound of keys as I type my thoughts and the ringing I hear in my ears when there’s no other sound around me.
(Now I breathe, inhale through my nose and blow, exhaling through my mouth and, ahhhh . . .)
There is thing, which we all have, called emotion. There is a thing we all have. I have it and you have it too. This thing is called fear.
Fear is normal.
Fear is an excellent motivator. So is pain. Pain teaches us a lot of things.
Fear and pain teaches us what to do as well as what not to do. However, fear and pain also has a way of holding us back.
Know what I mean?
I got into bench shooting a few years ago. I was pretty good too. I was able to shoot accurately enough that I could fire what was called dimes, which means all the shots in my group would hit the target consistently and create a hole the size of a dime.
I enjoyed this. Odd as this may sound, I found the action to be a great release. I would squeeze the trigger to my .30-06 rifle, which had a tremendous kick, and then I’d see the rocket fire shoot from the barrel to discharge the projectile and hit the mark on my target.
I liked this . . .
There was a process to this action. I would begin a series of slow, easy breaths. Nice and steady. Inhale and exhale a few times and then at the bottom of my breath, when the pause came between inhale and exhale, when my body was at its stillest moment, I squeezed the trigger to create the action.
I cannot say the action is peaceful, least of all meditative in the usual sense; however, I found the event to be calming. It was like a great release. And I like great releases. I t was an excellent way to discharge the unsettlement of emotion and just like that, the aggression was gone.
However, there was another part of this that I need to explain. I remember the first time I discharged a high-powered rifle. Apparently, I did not shoulder the rifle properly.
I squeezed the trigger and followed the steps given to me; however, when I fired the weapon, the rifle kicked back in a way I didn’t expect and the scope bashed me in the face. HARD!!
This hurt. My nose bled and I was awoken to an entirely new fear.
I learned my lesson, but literally, every time I went to squeeze the trigger afterword, I felt my body flinch in fear that I would suffer the same fate or feel the same pain.
Each time I went to take a shot, I would try to find my rhythm of breathing but sometimes my rhythm would break when I flinched—so I had to reset and start over.
Intellectually, I knew I was capable. Emotionally, however, there was a fear of old actions happening again.
There is a great analogy here . . .
think about it
I had to train myself not to flinch and not to be afraid. The mind will always look to protect us.
Think about the way we involuntarily blink when something comes close to our eyes. We don’t even have to think about this. Our brain knows we have to survive and protect ourselves.
We flinch and tense up because this is our mind protecting us. Sometimes though, I wonder if we are over-protective or over reactive and we flinch too often when meanwhile, intellectually, we know how to have fun or enjoy the moment.
Emotionally though, we flinch because we are afraid of being hurt. We are afraid of the anticipation as well; and anticipation of pain or fear or sickness and otherwise is and can usually be worse than the actual pain itself.
This is what keeps us stuck and what kept me from pulling the trigger (so to speak) on several different occasions in my life.
Think about what happens when we are at the doctor’s office.
Or, better yet, let me explain more about me in the doctor’s office.
I have a terrible fear of needles and injections. I hate needles, which is always humorous to the doctors and nurses because I am heavily tattooed. Nonetheless, I am petrified.
I hate needles. This is a childhood fear too. I know it is because I used to be that kid that was chased around in the doctor’s office and needed to be held down to get my shots.
Also, I was hospitalized a lot when I was small and traumatized by the experience of needles shoved in my arms and left there, connected to a bog that fed me intravenously, and to me, the pain was insurmountable.
Yet here I am, fully grown. My relationship to pain is much different. My threshold for pain is certainly different as well. I can take it.
I understand this; however, the mind remembers what it was like when I was small. I suffered and the mind does not want to suffer, at all, whatsoever.
I growl a little when I go to the doctors office now, which might be unsettling at times for the nurses. I’m sure of this.
I know because I did frighten the last nurse that had to inject me. I growled and said, “DO IT NOW!!”
(Keep in mind, I try to write softly but I do not look soft, nor does my New York City accent allow me to sound as gentle as my prose is intended to be)
The nurse administering the shot flinched, however, and she had to reset herself. Perhaps she has her own fearful experiences or patience hurting her before she gave them the needle.
It isn’t easy to retrain our thinking, nor do I claim this to be easy. But I think of it this way; the last shot I had and after the shot, the nurse laughed at me and said, “That wasn’t so bad, now was it?”
And she was right. It wasn’t so bad.
This means the struggle and anticipation is more in my head than anything else.
It’s just the mind trying to protect itself. that’s all. This is the emotional brain, hard at work, like a child with a teddy bear, home alone and afraid of the dark.
I have this kid in me that is scared of being hurt and rejected. I have to kneel down to him sometimes and say. “It’s okay. I am here for you now. And I won’t let anyone hurt you.”
We are not small anymore, me and that inner child. We are physically capable now and I have to remind him of this.
I have to tell that little kid inside of me, “Don’t worry. All those things are gone. There are no more monsters under the bed or in the closet.”
I have to remind the child in me, “I can protect you now.”
Besides, I am a pretty accurate shot from up to 300 yards out, so, unless the monsters are bulletproof, which that are not, they better be careful of us now
Then I tell the inner kid, “But you have to let me try to live now, okay? Otherwise, I will always give in to fear and pain and then it will just be you and me here, teddy bear and all, afraid of the dark and afraid to take the next step.”
We got this kid . . .
No one can hurt us anymore
There is an entire world out there, which belongs to us.
We can take it now so long as we’re not too afraid to get it while we can it while we can.