Yesterday I was on an early morning walk with my dog, Thor, when we met up with an unwelcome surprise. We were happily cruising the streets of Wellsboro as the town was beginning to wake up. In an unexpected instant my happy mood was turned into fear when I saw a black and white creature on the tree lawn in the quiet neighborhood of upper Grant Street. Yes, you guessed it....I was seeing a skunk. I was about thirty feet away and stopped dead in my tracks. I was surprised Thor didn't react by pulling on his leash like he usually does when we come upon an animal of any sort.
I have a fear of skunks more than of most animals. I know it's odd that I fear smelling bad more than I fear being ripped to shreds by a mountain lion, but it's true. The sight of this skunk caused my heart to beat wildly. I looked around to see how I can best get away without disturbing my little black and white visitor. I froze in my tracks and as I looked closer, I could see this black and white object didn't have a tail. I stepped closer and soon saw the object causing my fear was really a soccer ball.
I was relieved that what I thought I saw was not real, but it caused me to think of other situations where I (and probably you too) see things inaccurately which causes our hearts to beat wildly and makes us stop dead in our tracks.
It's actually pretty comical when I think about all those times I was fooled into thinking what I was seeing up ahead on my life path was potentially harmful, hurtful or damaging to me in some way. At times my fear of failure would be so great, I'd choose to not take the chance of making a mistake and would stay where I was or run in the opposite direction.
Thankfully, in some of those situations instead of running away or staying frozen, I did move ahead on my path to investigate further, or to go ahead with whatever I felt compelled to do, allowing my fears to dissipate as though they never existed. It's funny how just taking one step forward lessens the power of my fear.
A favorite acronym of mine is for FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real. Whenever I think of that from now on, I will also remember the soccer ball.