Ty Phillips explains how fear flows from ignorance.
The rain hits the concrete steps outside the door with a soft rhythmic pattern. It is almost mesmerizing in its simple even cadence. Lighting rushes across the darkened sky and thunder follows, large deep spirits drumming the sky. The earth shakes with its intensity and my daughter and the dog rush into my lap. “I scared of the thunder, daddy!” Her little arms wrap around my neck and she buries her face into my chest; the dog rolls up into a shivering ball against my belly.
I try to explain that the thunder is the expansion of air following a lighting bolt as it travels from sky to ground. She is three though and looks at me like I am speaking a made up language. I try and make her comfortable by telling her it’s just Tinkerbell and her friends playing the drums up in the sky. “Tinkerbell?” She looks at me with a smile and I sit up and tell her how excited I am that the fairies are playing music for us.
She marches to the window with a new found sense of wonder and excitement and when the thunder rumbles again, she turns to me with a smile and a giggle; “Daddy, Tinkerbell is making music!” Her face quickly turns back and presses up against the large picture window and she watches the sky like a cat watching the space under a dryer waiting for a mouse to come out.
Much like a child’s lack of understanding of what thunder really is, we are often influenced to react in fear because of our lack of understanding of what surrounds us and influences our day to day lives. The color of someone’s skin, the nature of their political stances, the food they eat, the hobbies they choose, they can all seem foreign and unusual.
We project our likes and dislikes across all we encounter and mentally insist that it match our expectations. There is a joke that goes something like this: an atheist and a vegan walk into a bar. Everyone knows that they are an atheist and a vegan because they told everyone within the first five minutes of meeting them.
We all have a nature of insistence. We associate with those who are like us; crossfitters, powerlifters, vegans, atheists, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and the like. We find comfort in the reassurance of our own views and without realizing we create a mentality of us and them. Like a child’s misunderstanding this is based in fear and ignorance.
Like us, all creatures and people seek to strive for happiness. We want to escape the suffering that is inherent in life and we try and do this by grouping things together; this is okay and this is not. These notions of us and them however, create more confusion for us. We remove the nature and innocence of experience and instead live out the nature of our fear and expectation.
It is an easy fix. It is a choice of openness vs. a choice of aggression; acceptance of the simple nature of being where we are. When we allow ourselves to let go of the sense of control, the struggle for stability, we notice that with just a small change in outlook (thunder being music and not something to fear) that we are awakened to a sense of wonder and giddy delight.
Of course, not every situation is neutral and without its own aggression or innocence. The choice is found not by basing it on fear and expectation but in a sense of grounded fact and humor. Like the experience of new food, new discoveries, new sensations, each moment has the ability to bring a sense of awakening when we allow it.
So maybe, just maybe, the next time we face our own thunder, we embrace it with a sense of new outlook, new awakening, and instead of trying to control it, we decide to move through it with a sense of calm and awakening. Who knows, we may find that it’s just fairies playing the drums.