Today class, we’ll be talking about fear. At least, I’ll be talking about fear. Whether you’ll talk about it or be too afraid to discuss it is yet to be seen. Certainly, most of us have said or heard someone else say, “I finally conquered my fear of ___________!” If not that, then possibly, “I just can’t get over being afraid of _____________.”
Like the rest of humanity, I have been afraid at times. I feared my dad’s wrath as a child and feared Santa bringing me a lump of coal at Christmas. Okay! The lump of coal thing is not true. From early on, my brother and I knew Dad was Santa, but that’s a story for another day.
In a law enforcement career spanning the better part of three decades, I have been afraid more times than I care to think about. Thankfully, most incidents turned into great war stories to share or relive over a beer. In a business like that, you either conquer your fears, or you’ll have a short and unhappy career.
Which makes the fear I talk about here difficult to admit. Yes, I could face a hardened criminal who was calculating the odds of killing me and getting away. I could take a chance on being killed or seriously injured to help save someone I didn’t know and would never see again. What I couldn’t do was look foolish.
I was raised to be responsible. By that, I mean I was supposed to manage my little brother, be my mother’s shoulder to cry on, be my dad’s sounding board, and make certain I did nothing to make myself or my family look bad. That translated into a no-nonsense, straight-arrow who put everyone else first. I had no time for foolishness.
I had to attend a series of what were then called life skills seminars to loosen up enough to admit I could never be perfect and that there was nothing wrong with the right kind of foolishness. Unless you’ve been there, you cannot imagine how scary it is to stand in front of strangers and “stretch” yourself by acting a fool.
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