Last night was an interesting night. I was moved to head down to the beach at around 10:30pm, so I listened and I went. As I went on my way along the coastal walk, there was a detour sign, as the path had closed due to landslips. The detour was through a cemetery, at what was now 11pm at night. Perfect, right?
As I made my way through, surrounded by hundreds of gravestones, a sickening feeling ran through me and the fears kicked in. My heart rate increased and I began to pace a little quicker, scanning my eyes left to right and finding myself constantly looking behind me. All of sudden, I was out the other side, with the last few minutes now only a blur.
A few hours later, I made my way back home and had to pass through the cemetery again. As I approached, I started with a decision. A decision that I wasn't going to be afraid. Half way through however, I realised that I was still pacing quite quickly, still running from the unsupported fear. With this realisation, I decided to slow my pace, repeating "I am not afraid. I am not afraid". Then, I stopped. I felt calm. At peace with what was around me.
As I stood still and looked around, I became witness to the beauty that surrounded me. The beauty of the gravestones, the love for those who've passed. The richness of their lives and the dreams that were never cast. The stories that lay buried, some known and others not. The separation from our differences, after death, we lay plot by plot. The beauty of the landscape, that these bodies lay beneath. The beauty of the stillness, the crashing waves as they unleash. The awe of this world, so expansive wide and far. The unanswerable questions, the unfathomable life that we are.
As a frowned, fearful expression turned into a subtle smile on my face, a wave of presence, energy and elation surged through me and a little voice in my head whispered, “this is what it feels like to be alive".
I feel like this experience was a metaphor for how most of us live our lives. We rush through it with ridiculous, unsolicited, irrational fears, blind to the beauty that surrounds us, never really enjoying it. If we were to stop occasionally along the way, take a deep breath and repeat the words "I am not afraid. I am not afraid", we may just be able to manage a subtle smile and open our eyes to the magnificence of life all around us.
Detour into your fear. Explore it. Question it. Witness every moment; with presence, with awe, with excitement, with curiosity and glee. You may be surprised to see what you find.