English 闲话: Fear and Courage
I am a man with a lot of fears. I used to be ashamed to admit this but not any more. Both Western and Eastern society pictures the ideal man as someone "brave" and "fearless," but I long ago gave up on that ideal. Maybe there are a lot of brave men out there, I am not one of them. Never have been. From an early age I was always the "timid" one. Some boys like to pick a fight, but not me. I stayed away from bullies, as far away as I could. As I got older, I discovered many more things and people to fear besides bullies: going to the doctors, grades, girls (ok, girls are both to be feared and desired), school work, exams, moving, finding work, doing and keeping work, making and keeping friends, marriage, money, reputation, and death...the list goes on.
Maybe I am one of those "hypersensitive" people. Hypersensitivity is recognized as a personality trait now, at least in some circles here in America. How else can you explain my love of poetry, or the occasional burst of emotions and even tears? A man is not suppose to cry, right? Or maybe I just have some childhood "traumas" I had gone through that I still need to "work on," as a psychotherapist friend suggested. My friend is right, I did experience some difficulties growing up, perhaps I do need to re-learn and re-adjust even though I am not longer a child.
How can I be more brave or even fearless? Of course this is not going to be easy. I googled and learned that instead of bravery or fearlessness, what I need really is courage. Courage, interestingly, is not an antonym of fear, in fact fear and courage are very much related: "Courage is not the absence of fear. Courageous people do feel fear, but they are able to manage and overcome their fear so that it does not stop them taking action. ... They have trained themselves to manage their emotional response to fear, so that they manage it rather than it managing them."
So everyone has fears, even "fearless" people have them also. The difference is that "brave" people can manage and overcome their fears, which are emotions, and go on with their lives. We, even hypersensitive men like myself, can be "trained" to manager fears rather than fears managing us. Sounds hopeful but I know it won''t be easy.
I believe the ultimate solution to human fears is spiritual. No matter how much training we go through, there is no cure for that ultimate human fear - the fear of death. You can ignore death, you can block it out of your everyday thinking, you can even pretend death doesn''t exist, but you cannot avoid it, because you are going to die no matter what. That is why I think some of the bravest and most courageous people in history are those with deep religious convictions. They must know and see something the rest of us do not.
echomom 发表于 2021-07-14 14:57
I can't type Chinese with my keyboard now, so I'll respond in English. Are you afraid of dying? I am. I try to avoid thinking about death. Isn't that how most people deal with death - by not thinking about it? This to me implies fear. Religions, whether Christianity or Buddhism, offer an explanation about death - what and how it will take place, and what happens after we die. That's one of the primary attractions (functions) of religion.