Day 515: Gathering fear

On Day 377: Free-floating, re-sticking anxiety (The _ Metaphor), I asked my readers for help with a metaphor about fear. In the following day’s post —  The Lint Metaphor — I described the help I got in return, for which I am still grateful.

Back then, I used the word anxiety rather than fear. In my mind, those two are closely related.

Are they related closely, in your mind?

I’m already gathering my typical post elements here, including

  • referring to past posts I think are relevant or helpful,
  • focusing on the title,
  • examining language,
  • asking questions, in an attempt to engage, and
  • lists.

But what the heck (as my son might say) is today’s post about?

We know this, so far: this post is about (1) fear* and (2) metaphors.

What else is it about?  Let’s find out, together, shall we?

I’ll start with this: I considered several different post titles this morning, and this is the one that stuck, like lint.

Moving to today’s metaphor: What does “gathering fear*” remind you of?

Personally, I’m reminded of a gathering storm.


I don’t tend to take pictures of storms, so the above image is my favorite, from the ones Google Images just gathered for me. You may notice I’m not including any attribution or credit for the use of that photo. Here’s why: that photo turned up in several websites without attribution, so … I’m letting go of any gathering fear* about that.

Now I’m wondering: what else gathers (besides fear*, storms and Google Images)?

I know! Groups of people. Such as, WordPress readers and people in therapy groups (two of my favorite types of gathering groups).

But before I focus any more on other things that gather … let’s go back to fear*.

Yes, I need to gather myself, to go back to fear, because  I can avoid or hide from fear*.

Speaking of hiding …


Geesh!  I’m really going off-topic*** here. Let’s gather this post back in, pronto!

Okay, so what exactly is gathering for me, today, regarding fear*?

I am conscious, right now, of fear* relating to:

  • hurting people’s feelings or doing damage in some way (a common, automatic fear,* which I’m working on),
  • spending a lot of time at hospitals (another automatic fear* for me, from my childhood), and
  • my son — the one who says “What the heck?” — becoming more independent, and spending more time away from home.

I think the last item on that list is … not least, this morning. It’s the opposite of least. In other words, that fear* — which commonly and automatically gathers for parents of adolescents — is the one that really inspired this post.

So I shall ask myself this question: Is there anything to really be afraid of?

Well, I’m looking outside the window, and I see no storm. Actually, it’s a wonderful day.

I am looking inside, as my son prepares to leave for school, and I see no cause for fear* there, either.  Actually, he’s a wonderful guy.

I interrupt this post for my conversation, just now, with my son, Aaron:

Me: I’m writing about you.

Aaron: You’re always writing about me.

Me: I AM always writing about you.  And me. And the world …

Aaron: All right, that’s enough.

And, as usual, Aaron is correct.

Thanks to those who deal with fear* (in any magnitude), people who have helped with my posts here (in any way), to creatures that hide (for whatever reason), to things that gather (anywhere in the world), to Aaron, and — of course! — to you, for gathering here today.

* and/or anxiety.**

** Yes, I’ve decided to gather footnotes down here, today. Here’s some gathering anxiety regarding footnotes: I’m not sure if the asterisk should go before or after the punctuation mark. Here’s my answer: so what?

*** WordPresser Swarn Gill has communicated with me via email about judgment, and I’ve asked if I could share some of that discussion here. One possible topic is “Off-Topic.” Stay tuned for a future post, gathering his thoughts and mine.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth | Tags: , , , | 27 Comments

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27 thoughts on “Day 515: Gathering fear

  1. I think anxiety and fear are closely related. I did think that the word anxiety derived from anxious, which can sometimes be related to an intense sense of excitement/mixed with impatience which is not really fear. Or maybe it is and you fear the time will never come and thus get anxious!

    Fear is a tricky thing, because I think it is the intensity of fear that is what is relevant. A healthy fear of storms is a good thing. But too much of a fear can actually have you make poor decisions like freezing up, panicking, etc. I can imagine somebody who suddenly finds a storm on top of them while they are driving, panicking and driving faster to get out of it. That would be a mistake. I saw a video once of these storm chasers who panicked because large softball sized hail was pounding their vehicle and cracked their windshield. Their fear made them pull up to a farm house to try and run under their porch. In the 20 yards they had to run they found themselves pelted with hailstones falling at 70 mph and had to be taken to the hospital for numerous lacerations. They were actually safer in the car. By the way, in case you don’t know I am an atmospheric scientist, which is why I am getting so nerdy about storms. 🙂

    I have a fear of wasps. It’s getting better thanks to my wife. I told her that if I was driving and a wasp was in the car, I’d freak out. My wife said “that’s a phobia, that’s not good. You could get into an accident and die. I love you and I’m not going to let you break my heart because a wasp is in your car”. I think I’m to the point where I can slowly pull over…roll down all the windows before I run from the vehicle. Compromise achieved. 🙂

    Here is my fear metaphor since I didn’t get to participate before. Actually this is a simile I think technically. Like anxiety and fear they are quite similar. 🙂

    Fear is like water. You need a certain amount to keep you alive, but too much and you’ll drown.

    • I was very moved by this comment, Swarn. Reading it was like swimming in a beautiful ocean of ideas and feelings. In real life, I can’t swim, but I felt quite safe here.

  2. I love you. You inspire me. Lift my spirits and encourage my eyes, and heart, to open wide!

  3. I think any 16-year-old who will happily attend a show by Eddie Izzard with his mother is ready to shoulder some anxiety- and feer-free independence, Ann. From what I read into your always-writing-about-Aaron-and-your-world, you have a solid son, smooth-thinker, good human. Hospitals, hopefully, will continue to be visited on the proper side of the desk. And, maybe, the rest are just footnotes. Have a good and beautiful day, my friend.

  4. Can I just say that I’m relieved? When I first saw this post’s title I was anxious of some bad medical news or something. As it turns out, your gathering fear is really more a fear of dispersal, if that makes sense. Which is, in many ways, the most primary fear when it comes to things, people, circumstances, etc. we love. But anyways, yeah, I’m relieved.

    • Can I just say, Jeff, that my first response to this comment was …. anxiety? It was the first anxiety on my list above: doing “no harm” to others. That is, I thought, “oh, no, I should have anticipated that somebody would have the response that Jeff had!” My next thought was “nah” … And then I just took in the caring and wisdom in your comment. So thank you for all of that.

  5. I often look back on times in my life and think, I’d have enjoyed that a lot more if I hadn’t been worrying about what could go wrong. Most of the stuff I was worrying about never happened – and yet I still can’t seem to stop worrying.

    • I think not worrying takes practice, Annabelle. And wanting to stop is always the first step. I am so glad you join in, here.

  6. Gene Phillips

    I confess that when I saw the title of this post, I made “gather” a transitive verb with the understanding that you had been gathering fear(s) the way that politicians gather support and squirrels gather nuts. Perhaps, I thought, you were doing this gathering to deal with it (them) in some way. I like to think this (mis)reading occurred because of how I see you: as someone who forthrightly confronts things, but it was probably just because my mind tends in odd directions. On another note, I really like the Ann-and-Aaron dialogues.

    • I confess that I had both the transitive AND the non-transitive forms of the verb in mind when I wrote this, Gene. So, yes, I think you see me clearly. As always, I appreciate your clear-eyed and insightful presence (presents, too!).

  7. In the beginning when you asked “what is this post about? Well, so far we know it is about fear and metaphors”… Yeah, I had no idea that was what it was going to be about! I’ve learned not to try and find a point so early in your posts! Sounds like you are learning to let go of fear (not crediting the picture, hurting other peoples feelings) and I wish you well. I can only imagine how much better life will feel when you don’t have so much fear and anxiety hanging onto you! When you can go a day and not have to have a nemesis!
    On a different note, when I told my son I was writing a post about him, he in turn let me know that maybe it was time for him to write another guest post for me 🙂 Aren’t kids awesome!

    • Hey, Kate! Yes, I am trying to let go of fear and anxiety … and writing these posts and getting well-wishing comments like yours are all helping me do that. And, yes, yes, yes, kids are awesome!

  8. I know something about the fear (and pride) that comes with having teens. Last night, saw my son in a rabbit costume being chased by four very tall people in suits (on stilts) across a soccer field where there was a game in play. The school’s interactive theatre performance apparently conflicted somewhat with other booked use of the space, and of course there was an immediate response from the players. However, my palpitations were nothing compared to my friend’s, who saw her daughter dressed in a crow suit hanging 100 feet up in a pine tree, cawing.

    Will we survive even the glorious highlights of our children’s high school years without PTSD?

    • I wish there was a YouTube video of this epic event that I could watch. Assuming there isn’t, your description of it was vivid enough that I am extremely delighted.

      So, will we survive that time in our adolescents’ lives without PTSD? I think pride (and love) are the answers.

      Thank you, as always.

  9. I read somewhere, maybe even here, I can’t remember: that people who are anxious are living in the future and people who are sad are living in the past. That has stuck with me since I’ve read it. What do you think my dear Ann?
    Diana xo

  10. I’ll add my bit to Diana’s here. There’s a difference between real danger and fear and anxiety. Fear and anxiety are created in our minds but to our body it reacts in the same way as real danger. A continuous fight or flight response coming from being anxious about a possible future outcome, causes stress and dis-ease.
    Its our thinking that takes over, rather than the actual reality in the present moment. When we are anxious our mind literally beats us up…..

    My daily message to myself and others is:

    Breath fully to calm the mind and soothe the body.
    Focus on our breath to bring us into the present moment.
    This is where we can pause, connect with our true self (which is more than our thinking) and find peace.
    I call it our middle ground….

    • I would like to add to Diana and Val’s comments. I believe that fear and anxiety are about the future, albeit sometimes rooted in the past. That is a past trauma may make us anxious about it happening again in the future. Val is right about separating a real danger from a perceived danger but that is not altogether easy. For example, enough anxiety about our financial comfort for the future is required to spur us on to budget correctly. Likewise, we need to be anxious enough about our good health for the future to take care of ourselves right here and now. If we only thought about today, we would eat cream cakes over and over. It is not safe to just ‘stop worrying for what may not happen’, because if we don’t bring the future to our present and think it through, then what we are concerned about will happen (we will run out of money, and fall into ill-health).
      All that said, even for real fears, we do need to stop ‘worrying’ about them and instead DO something about those things that require action. Maybe Val could come back and give her thoughts on how to separate the real fears from the perceived fears.

      PS. Enjoy your son’s company while he is still at home. That time will pass all too quickly.

    • Thanks for creating that beautiful middle ground, Val. Hugs back at you.

      Elizabeth, I really appreciate your thoughts on fear and anxiety, too (although I developed a momentary but overwhelming wish for cream cakes).

  11. I just want to be clear about one thing, Ann: I am not afraid of you!

  12. Pingback: Day 650: Today’s fears (and safety and dreams) | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

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