“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” – Frank Herbert, “Dune”
I distinctly remember reading “Dune” for the first time. I was a high school senior and took a college-level night English literature class that focused on science fiction classics. I remember being just totally blown away by the scope and sweeping story line, but also with some of the more philosophical concepts and the detailed politics and strategies between the different factions.
The quote above was always the best and most memorable of all.
These days, fifty-four years after publication, you can get it on T-shirts and memes – in high school you could order posters of it to hang next to my Led Zeppelin posters.
Fear has its place. There are lots of things in life that are worthy of fear – hopefully most of us don’t encounter them on a regular basis.
Irrational, unnecessary fears are a problem. Too many of us (myself included) can get slowed down, even paralyzed into inaction at times, tied up in knots over fears of what might or might not happen in the immediate or near future.
Courage and confidence can be overwhelmed by such fears. The mind can believe us to be helpless when we are not. The gut can get twisted into knots when there’s no immediate danger, or even true danger in the short term. Problems? Yes, up to our asses in alligators some times. Danger and crises? No, they’re not real alligators, it’s just a figure of speech.
There may be problems at work, at school, with our health, with our families, and they may be serious. Are they an actual “DANGER” this minute? Today? Next week? If not, why be tied up and wasting all of that nervous energy today?
And we’re usually not without resources, not without alternatives, not without options. Sure, getting from here to a better place might well involve a gauntlet of truly torturous ordeals – but that doesn’t mean that we can’t get there. And if we’re already being tortured on a daily basis just dealing with our current day-in, day-out shit, isn’t the better long term plan to be working through those ordeals toward a better place.
The gut doesn’t always agree or understand. But the head needs to remember. Don’t let fear dominate. Let it pass through you. And then move on, with the head in control, not the gut.
At least, that’s the plan and good advice!