Sunday, January 09, 2005

Gang of Fear

Smartmom used to hang out with a bad crowd. A bunch of thugs, really: a gang called Fear. They still come around every now and again. Especially when she's feeling low. Old, old "friends"—she's known them longer than she cares to remember. She actually used to like them and thought they were so cool in their black leather jackets, motorcycle boots, and fancy tattoos that said: "Fear Everything."

But now she hates them and wants them far away. They hold her back and keep her from doing new things, "Nah, don't go there," they say. "Stay here with us where it's cozy and familiar."

The Fear Gang keeps her from making positive changes. "No, no, no," they say. "Stay just the way you are" Then they take her hands and squeeze tight. "We love you just the way you are."

The Fear Gang tries to prevent her from taking risks: "That's a bad idea," they'll say. "That's a scary thing to do." Stay with us, we'll keep you from harm!"

The Fear Gang always shows up when Smartmom is doing something important like sending out her resume, submitting her writing, trying to scare up an agent. "You've got to be kidding," the Fear Gang will say, "Why, there are so many people more talented than you!" Then they try to make it up to her: "But we like you. We really do."

Smartmom has been trying to escape the Fear Gang for years. But to no avail. They follow her wherever she goes, whatever she does. Sometimes she manages to avoid them for weeks, even months at a time. And when they do find her, she tries her best to ignore them, to look the other way. That's a hard thing to do because they're so BIG. And they always seem to show up at the worst possible times.

Like the day after the first session of the Beginner's Running Group. "We saw you yesterday in Prospect Park," they said. "You're too old to go running, you know. You're just gonna get hurt!" Smartmom slammed the door and vowed never to see them again. And she did continue running and finished a 10K race in June.

They dropped by recently when she was submitting some work to a literary journal. "We just read some really great work by another writer—a really good writer. Would you like to see it?" they said. "Get the hell out of here," Smartmom screamed.

Without fail, the Fear Gang comes by just as she begins to write. The last time, they sang, "Words, words, words. What really do you have to say?" Smartmom tried to ignore them as she pressed her fingers to the keyboard. "You have no right to call yourself a writer," they taunted, wresting her away from her desk.

When she finally managed to get up off the floor she screamed, "Don't come around here anymore!" Eventually, they rode off on their bikes, leaving a spray of exhaust in their wake. Smartmom got back to her writing eventually. But the altercation really took its toll.

Smartmom is trying to learn how to live in the same world as the Fear Gang. She knows they're not going away but she doesn't want to be stymied by them anymore. So what if they taunt her, or say mean things.

So what?

She can turn up the volume on her music, use ear plugs, believe in herself more and more. This year Smartmom is making a really big effort to eradicate the Fear Gang from her world. Whatever it takes. With some vigilence she should be able to rid her life of those rats.

They're really dangerous to have around.


At 3:04 PM, Blogger red eft said...

I know them.

They have Very Sensitive Eyes. So next time you are in a dark alley and they begin to gather round, shine your bright light in their faces. When they scream and ask you to get them medics, ignore them, they always do that. Don't let them prey on your sympathy. As soon as they remove their hands from their eyes, shine your light again, right at their pupils. Don't call 911. Move on along and return to what you were doing. They may get help for themselves eventually--some do, some don't.

And the rest of us will do the same, because since you reminded us what Susan Sontag said, we'll all be very busy Doing Something in our Clenched and Curious ways, and will not withstand interruption.

At 5:36 PM, Blogger mamainwaiting said...

right on.


Post a Comment

<< Home