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Okumura Masanobu: An Impossible Feat by Imaginary Men, no. 8 from a series of 12 prints (1708)
"If you meet a fearless being on the road, run for the hills in fear."

I find HomeMaking terrifying, which isn't really saying that much, since I find life generally terrifying, so it should naturally follow that I would find HomeMaking, being an integral part of my life, terrifying. I noticed again this morning as I walked along the upstairs hall, feeling my way through pre-dawn darkness, I heard myself whisper to myself, "I am afraid." It's not an uncommon comment for me to catch myself whispering, though I usually only intend this comment for my own ears. I no longer interpret this statement as an excuse to get out of doing something, for I usually feel my fear and choose to proceed anyway, a response I've grown to invoke, if only because it enables me to do things. If I avoided engaging in activities that terrified me, I'd be hiding in the basement, though basements, too, kinda fill me with dread.

Years ago, I stumbled upon a fine little book called Art and Fear (Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking By: David Bayles; Ted Orland, 2001).
In it, the authors proposed that fear might be an inescapable element of art making, not something to be overcome, but to be recognized and coped with. Becoming an artist might involve learning how to not feel stymied because fear accompanies your work. They suggest that becoming an artist serves as no foil to fear, but its receptacle. It's the same way with me and HomeMaking. Some days, I cannot seem to face my duties, as I explained last week in OffDays. Other days I must appear just fine to everyone but myself, for I certainly seem to be up and engaging as if fearlessly, but on those days, I only ever appear fearless. I'm just carrying it better then. I never successfully shake it. Fear is my copilot and constant companion.

While fear does not seem to prevent me from doing much, it does lend a certain gravitas to whatever I engage in. It frames each experience as something other than triviality. It seems to make things matter more. If I went to all the trouble to come out here in this storm of fear, this must really be something. Fear increases the degree of difficulty I address. It complicates. Its presence means that very little matters very little and most everything matters a lot. A whole lot. Fear lends a mythical tenor to my performance. Yes, it's all performance with stage fright you might not notice.

I am reminded not to mistake engagement for courage or the apparent absence of fear as the actual absence of it. I'm not so much faking that I don't have fear as I'm making fear a part of my story. I manage my cowering better than I once did and worse than I might manage it tomorrow. I'm still learning about HomeMaking, which means that I'm still learning how to cope with the fear that accompanies it. I've all but ceased trying to get away from it. I've spent more than my share of time attempting to leave fear behind, ultimately fruitless efforts. I was unable to make myself fearless, and apparently not due to a lack of courage. Courage might be practiced like art making and HomeMaking, with fear inside the armor and not left behind. Us HomeMakers and dragon slayers acknowledge our fears and engage anyway. It was never any other way. If you meet a fearless being on the road, run for the hills in fear, for you have met an utterly imaginary creature who could not possibly exist here.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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