The Fire of Fear

Tessai, (Kuchi-e, the Devil)

As soon as my gut is certain that I have steeped in the green light of its effortless nod, it catches on fire.

I could blame it on the buffalo wings and blue cheese dip and beer; but I know my body better than that…  It has something else to say, and my job is to listen, not make excuses.

This burning coal in my stomach is a place holder from the past.  But that doesn’t mean  thatI can dismiss it.  In fact, it engages my attention throughout the night, refusing to be pacified by the hot water bottle on my side.

By morning, the raging fire has subsided, but the embers till glow.

I take to my bed with ginger tea, searching for what I can find in the ashes…

I am afraid.

I am afraid of change.

I am afraid of being lost.

I am afraid of not being good enough.

I am afraid of having what I want.

I am afraid of not getting what I want because…

Just yesterday, my mind quickly regrouped from being demoted from manager to consultant; and despite its great doubts, got behind the green light of my gut, and suggested that I make room for receiving what I claim as mine.

I expected this to be an act outside of myself, and thus took on the challenge of my cluttered home office, knowing that some of my personal pursuits would have to be set aside, while others would have to die if I were to embark on this new journey.  When I began to loose energy in this daunting pursuit, I wrote yesterday’s post, The Mask, and found myself renewed.

Once written however, another chapter quickly followed in this story of claiming what is mine…

Fear. Old, old fear~

The kind that came at the kitchen table when I witnessed the disintegration of my parents marriage.

The kind that came when we lost our house–our very heritage–and I was forced to sleep in a hallway.

The kind that came when our lives continued to spin apart, even faster, and I couldn’t find the “off” button.

It wasn’t buffalo wings and beer that time, it was shrimp diablo and sangria that pushed my ulcer over the edge.  That excruciating pain seared itself into the very core of my being, and like a sleeping dragon, it is reawakened.

This time, however, I know that the fear is a gift, and that this burning is part of the cleansing process, required for releasing that which I no longer need.

Like the Zen story of the master craftsman who tells the Emperor that he cannot begin his commission for five days, only to be discovered by the Emperor’s spies, simply sitting– doing nothing, I too must accept a period of non-action.

All the first day,” the monk explains, “I released every fear of failure or disgrace if my work should displease. All the second day, I released every thought of inadequacy, every belief that I might lack the skill to offer what has been asked. On the third day, I released every hope and desire for glory, and on the fourth day, I released the pride that might arise in me should I succeed.

Lastly, the monk describes the task of the fifth and final day before he begins his lofty commission.

On that day, I beheld a clear vision of what I was to create.

I pray for the strength and will for such dedicated presence, knowing that a diet of soft foods, without alcohol or caffeine, will no doubt sharpen my attention to the work at hand. 

Kelly Salasin, October 31, 2010

(Note: the Zen story was adapted from an excerpt in Margot Anand’s, The Art of Everyday Ecstasy.)

To read the previous post on this Life Purpose Path, click this link:  The Mask

Or to read more about the body as a messenger, click this: The Body’s Instant Messenging (IM) System

To follow the journal of the ensuing 21 day liver cleanse, click here.

Or the next post in the Life Purpose Path series: The Zen Monk and Me

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