Fear and Freedom

“Fear is the cheapest room in the house. /
I would like to see you living / In better conditions.”

“Move from within. / Don’t move the way that fear wants you to. /
Begin a foolish project. / Noah did.” 


I smiled yesterday when lucy commented about my journey of fearlessness because this subject of fear and freedom has been on my heart a lot lately.  There is something very liberating about living into the freedom I am being invited to and not letting fear dictate the choices I make.  Most of the time I am at the cottage I experience a sense of deep peacefulness and joy, a sense of such rightness about the place and the season ahead. 

But there are certainly some moments when I begin to question this choice, how can I make this writer and artist path financially viable?  Will I ever have any security if I keep following this way?  How long can I live on savings?  Thankfully one of my practices right now is intentionally not trying to figure things out, to try and be fully present and simply live into the invitation I feel stirring within me, whatever that may be in a given moment — to make art, write, stretch, walk, eat, sleep.  I have given myself this season ahead and I don’t have to anticipate what comes next because doing so takes me away from the experience of this gift.

Our dog Tune is a Weimaraner, which means her breed was developed for hunting.  She loves being outdoors and when she gets a scent she becomes completely focused on it.  For this reason I have hesitated about letting her off leash, I worry she will run and run, following the scent and lose her way back.  She also spent most of her life in a kennel without much freedom at all until we got her in January, so it feels safer to keep her tethered.  Walking on the beach the other day, I realized that the path is bordered on one side by the water and the other by a high banking, so there are really only two directions she can go.  I took a risk and released her.  She suddenly began to run in this joyful burst of speed and playfulness, romping to her heart’s content, running back and forth and acting much younger than her ten years.  I realized my fears have kept her from this exuberant gallop and so I am going to keep letting her off leash down on the beach and positively reinforce her return to me. 

Something else happened as she took off running, I felt a physical shift in my own body.  I experienced her sense of release and being so fully herself in my blood.  The connection to her deepest desires in that moment rippled through me in an encounter with pure joy.

“A false sense of security is the only kind there is” said Michael Meade when I heard him speak last month.  There is a part of me that longs for the package that comes with full-time employment — retirement benefits, health & disability insurance, a regular paycheck.  But as we know from the suddenness of corporate lay-offs, those securities are fleeting.  There are, of course, no guarantees about anything.

The more I live into the places that feel risky and uncertain, the more alive I feel, the closer I feel to what the Holy One desires for me — a life of freedom — unleashed.

-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts

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