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A Conversation With Fear

Excerpt:

Part One,
“The Moment of Fear”

Chapter 1
“Meeting the Moment”

Page 1

 

Meeting the Moment

It is a tremendous act of violence to begin anything.

—Rainer Maria Rilke

The time has come to jump. I must leave the slow-paced, easy busyness of the garden and walk through the door into my study and face the blank page. Suddenly, I want only to putter among my plants—pink against red, gray, shades of green, deep pine to iridescent—a sanctuary of beauty and memory and what is too deep and inchoate to articulate. But I turn away to sit at my desk. The pivotal moment has come. I recognize it. I hate and love it. My body droops with fatigue, my hands shake as I look out from the edge of a cliff. I want the words to leap down onto the page. But do I dare push off? Like J. Alfred Prufrock, I brew myself one more cup of tea.

What is this moment that comes before every small or large leap? Whether it is time to begin a performance, or walk into the boss’s office and say “I quit,” or sit down in protest in the town square, there is a moment of passage, a push off, after which we cannot go back. It can seem like a quick flash of time, the tiniest of rooms, but it is packed with a magnetism that attracts and repels us in seemingly equal amounts.

What is comforting and mundane starts to beckon with a happy familiarity—the clean tabletop, the dish drainer stacked with dishes, the laundry basket waiting. “I could vacuum the living room, it really needs it,” I say to myself, and soon a list floods my mind: food to buy, that insurance company to call, the endless number of weeds to pull. I am tricky. I pick the most valid, must-do jobs that I could even wax self-righteous about, jobs that sustain and maintain the sturdy fiber of our lives: food and shelter. But I know this dilemma. If I keep retreating from

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