I believe that as I've aged, I've become more susceptible to fearful longings, perhaps brought on by the overload of information at my fingertips through various mediums. My days of youthful naïveté are just out of reach. When I was performing on stage, emceeing school and sorority pageants, or playing clarinet in my high school marching band, I had no fear. I've misplaced or forgotten the abandon or bravado I had as a teen performing God's Trombones by James Weldon Johnson in junior high and later at church, replete with choir robe.
What of my relocation to the East Coast from Texas? I had little, if any fear traveling to place I'd only visited twice, no relatives or friends in sight as a backup plan. I set my mind on New York City, and was determined to make it on a soap opera and Broadway, before relocating again to California where I'd have a career as a film actor, and later director with my wife and 2.5 kids.
At some point in that chapter of my life, I settled for a real job, tired of the long audition and callback lines, tired of the unscrupulous and oversexed casting agents and directors preying on who they thought was innocent fresh meat to be used and discarded at will. No, I wouldn't stand for it back then, and don't regret my early retirement from acting given the still dearth of acting and directing opportunities for minorities in Hollywood and New York.
I dimmed the rotating marquee Broadway lights in favor of a 401k plan, medical benefits, vacation and sick days because I now know that I was afraid of failure and having to return to Houston with my head between my legs. No, corporate America would afford me the comfort/illusion I needed to remain afloat in NYC while performing off and off-off Broadway, in student and no-budget films.
The best acting and actors are raw and exposed on stage and screen, but that level of technique and training brings with it an unexpected vulnerability. When you're this open to the world, nothing gets filtered. It is in this mindset I might behave like Sally Field during her Oscar acceptance speech, "You like me, you really, really like me," when meeting with writing workshop applicants. Who doesn't want to be liked? Human Need 101.
What fear could there be in meeting writing workshop applicants, PR or booking clients? The same fear that grips performers before taking a stage. It's all about selling yourself and your services to an audience of one. I wonder if the person on the opposite side of the table is paying attention, and is genuinely interested in what I'm saying.
The global twenty-four news cycle is exhausting at best. There's always something happening or seems to be in some familiar or distant part of the world that might affect me or someone I know. The obvious remedy was to restrict my news intake not in a Pollyanna way, but limit when and what types of news programs I watched. This has been working out so far, but every now and then a sensational headline pulls me, and ¡BAM! I'm caught up again in some police chase through a housing project in the Bronx or Brooklyn.
Working from home is a mixed blessing. I have the solitude I need to write, edit, market and promote my wares and services, and the freedom to post blogs and interact with others online through the various mediums. The inherent fear in working from home is accountability that typically takes place when working in an office with an overlord hovering nearby or monitoring every keystroke. The natural question is whether I'm making the best use of my time and available technology to make daily personal and professional progress, or am I slacking off on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media and calling it work? This solution is similar to the one posted above: sensible social media diet for one. Gone is the anxiety that I must update the world on my every thought, mood, and Southern meal. A sensible diet calls for doing what feels natural, and once I've had my fill for the day, I push the keyboard away.
Most frightening of all are dark shadows and people unseen, but sensed and felt. I'm fascinated by Psychic Kids on A&E, but wouldn't want that gift. Anyone unfamiliar with Gustavo, read about him in an earlier post here. Every now and then there's a shadow here and there while I'm working from home and I dismiss it to tired eyes and an active imagination. I wonder if my assistant pastor roommate who lays hands on the sick and possessed has dropped breadcrumbs for an evil spirit he believes he has expelled from one of his parishioners. I can't shake the feeling that sometimes I'm being watched, and not by Gustavo. I close my eyes and pray for strength. I recite scripture. I light candles. I'm out of sage incense. In a recent Today's Word with Joel & Victoria e-mail entitled "Power Over Fear", he had this to say,"fear is a spirit. It plays on our emotions and holds us back. Fear is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real." I will keep this in mind from now on, for it is in the mind that fear takes root and spreads throughout the body and causes illness.
How do you deal with your fears? Please leave your comments below.