I have no use for Fear. But just because I say that doesn’t mean I don’t feel it now and again. Lately, like a small horde of invisible rodents Fear has been gnawing at my insides. Not so much that it stops my thinking, rather more insidiously, quietly, softly. Somehow Fear has entered my consciousness and I need to purge it.
So, here’s a little story I’ll tell myself before I go to sleep…
Once, long ago, in a land filled with vast lakes, and mountains that appeared to scrape the very sky and deep dark forests whose trees grew so thick not a single ray of sunlight hit the earth where they stood rooted like soldiers, there arrived a little boy.
His world was small. He did not notice the trees, nor the mountains. Instead, at first, his curiosity was filled by his toes and the wet nose of the family dog, although he had a name for neither. His thoughts were of the comfort of his blankie and the sound of his mother’s voice.
But soon enough the little boy grew, as children are wont to do and his world grew. Now, he was allowed to play outside in the tiny yard. It was fenced as much to keep him in as to keep other things out. The fence, though was not so tall as to prevent the boy from looking at the expanded world around him. And so he saw the hill in the distance and how those tall trees guarded it, and he saw the mountains rise even farther away and watched in silence as the big puffy clouds hung low over them. And as children do, he wondered about what might be on the other side of the hill.
He’d already become acquainted with both the thing that hid under his bed and the monster that lived in his closet so, it was no big thing for him to fill his mind to bursting about what might lie over the hill. At first he thought perhaps there might be a castle, and knights and maybe a tournament where they would arrive in their armor and finery. He, with his paper crown and twig sword imagined himself riding a fine steed (one that looked conspicuously like the family dog) and winning lots of colorful ribbons and the favor of a lucky princess.
But one day the very dirt beneath him vibrated and shook and with this came a terrible rumble . . . and the occasional groan. Not the groan of a person but one of something much larger. Soon the boy’s mind was filled with images of dragons. Not just one but many. They were angry and hungry and he knew without a doubt that one day they would come for him and his family. And what would he be able to do being just a boy?
He saw the dragons in his sleep, all shades of green and blue and gold. He saw their scaly wings and toothy mouths. He saw their sharp claws and long spiny tails. But worst of all he saw the fire they breathed. And he was very, very afraid. Fear had griped him as much as any real dragon ever could.
One day the boy’s mother spoke to him and told him there were no dragons over the hill, upon learning of his Fear. And she put on his warm wool jacket and made him wear his red rubber boots because it had rained the night before and there were sure to be puddles, and she walked with him down a path he’d never seen before. She brought him right to the very top of the hill. The one he could see in the distance from his place in the yard.
There, she stopped and said nothing as the boy took in the scene. Below him were no dragons. No monsters. Nothing that could bring his family harm. There were bright yellow bulldozers and dump trucks and lots of men wearing yellow hats. They were moving dirt and erecting steel, clearly building something.
He learned this was to be the town library. A place his mother said where he could let his imagination run wild. A place where there would be no dragons, unless of course, he invited them . . . because, as everyone knows you cannot Fear something once you face it.
Time to face my own dragons, I guess. It’s the only way to move forward.