After the police arrest the terrorist suspect, a bystander interviewed always says, “Now we can go back to our life. We don’t have to be scared anymore.” That quote is so very wrong. Catching the person who spreads hate does not make the problem go away. And every time a terrorist attack occurs, we (understandably) want it to be over so we can return to the time when our lives were not shaken up.
We yearn to go back to what we were doing before we had to think about dying. Too late; our lives have changed forever already. There is no going back. There is no closure. People died. People had limbs blown off. Death is not way off over the horizon; death lives on our silent street.
What we do have is a big choice to make–there is a huge difference between living IN fear and living WITH fear. When we live with fear, we understand the world around us is unsteady and we are not in control of every aspect of our life.
We understand that death is not within our control, and that someday we, our family and friends will die–maybe of old age, maybe of disease, maybe because a terrorist bomb found us.
When we live with fear, we recognize the importance of giving, of sharing, of being compassionate, forgiving, and gentle. We risk trusting others because we want to be trusted, we want a foundation to build on, and trust is a solid start.
When we live in fear, we become suspicious, angry and controlling. We trade essential freedoms for the hope of safety, and wind up with vanished freedoms and no guarantee of safety after all. We refuse to think about death as anything except a cruel cheat, as something that happens to others.
When we live in fear, we lose our creativity. Creativity, among other benefits, allows us to promote kindness, compassion and understanding at an individual level. It’s hard to tap into the creative force when our mind is skittering around topics of safety, permission, loss, and anger.
Fear robs us of flexibility, agility, choices, and the glory of uncertainty. When we live in fear, uncertainty is the enemy (along with almost everything else.) Instead of spending time in creative thinking, we spend time in isolation, developing rationalizations for “them” and “us” thinking. Anything different, unusual, or non-conforming is suspicious, maybe even dangerous. Something to be rejected.
When we live with fear, we accept that uncertainty and change are part of life. When we live with fear, we look for bigger horizons. The very root of creativity is in examining the different, risky, and strange.
Creativity is both exciting and calming, involved in giving up and expanding anew. But let fear in the studio, and it vanishes. Fear makes you small. It takes courage to be creative.
—Quinn McDonald’s lives with fear. Each day, she chooses creativity again.