Whilst in the forest, I felt a sense a freedom, one which I haven't experienced since childhood. I ran, I walked, I ducked, I climbed. I was that very character which John Eldredge describes in his 2001 book, Wild at Heart. Strangely, in my solitude, came a real sense of belonging. At that time, in that moment, I was exactly where I wanted to be; in fact, I was exactly where I needed to be. The words LOVE and FEAR kept playing over and over in my mind. There was an element of danger in what I was doing, and the more fear whispered hints of caution into my conscious mind, the more I loved it. A pretty feeble rush for those who find pleasure and leisure in extreme sports, but it was more than just a "rush", it was exhilarating and refreshing.
Many years ago, one of my oldest and most dearest friends, (let's call him Sean because that is actually his real name - insert smiley emojicon here!), said to me that the only two real emotions are love and fear. I cannot remember the context of the conversation, and in all honesty, this type of conversation was not the norm - we never spent hours engaging in philosophical debates, it was always as simple as some girl he or I liked and whether she had smiled at us at school that day - but I somehow remember that it was Sean who said it and at the time I was studying my undergraduate in Psychology.
I guess this idea has been swirling in my head ever since. At the time I wanted to prove this notion false given that I was studying human behaviour after all. One element in all of this which kept reoccurring, was that no matter how hard I tried, I continued to draw the same conclusion; I always came back to the same outcome - at the root of every emotion lies love and fear.
That was 18 years ago and there I was, 18 years later, lost in a forest, reciting the two words over and over again.
Is it really true that we are almost always driven by either fear or love? I want to achieve something with my life, but fear tells me I'm not smart enough, good looking enough, brave enough, strong enough...and so apathy sets in and mediocrity becomes my mundane reality (thanks FEAR!!). Or how about passion? I love doing this or that and so I am driven to discover more, learn more, engage more (thanks LOVE).
Racism, hatred, ethnocentrism, apathy, disinterest, loneliness, lethargy, stoicism, etc, etc, etc - FEAR FEAR FEAR!
Passion, wonder, exploration, interest, kindness, joy, discovery, etc, etc, etc - LOVE LOVE LOVE.
I am so hard pressed to find Sean wrong. Eighteen years of studying people and their emotions, eighteen years of engaging, discovering, learning, asking, telling, advising, being advised, counselling and being counselled, and all I can come up with is LOVE and FEAR. And you know what? That's fine! I like it like that...in fact, I love it like that.
Fear cripples me whilst love drives me forward. Fear restricts me whilst love lends a hand at discovery.
Bringing a child into this world is both utterly terrifying and with it, so wonderfully joyous. We react our of fear. Fear of what they will turn out to be. Fear of whether we are doing right by them. Fear of failing. Fear of falling short. Fear of not meeting expectations as a parent. And underneath all that fear, thankfully, lies love. We are terrified because we love. We are concerned because we love. We want to do right because we love. We don't want to fall short because we love. We want to meet expectations because we love.
Fear can drive love but it can also cripple. The beauty in this, is that we have a choice.