The Fear

“[…] in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” – Benjamin Franklin

A few posts ago, I mentioned that the nervousness that I used to feel in the pit of my stomach was gone.  Throughout my life, I’d get stomachaches when I got nervous.  I was shy and afraid of screwing up.  My stomach would tie in knots, hands would sweat, my heart would race and my cheeks would get hot.  It was something that I had to deal with on a daily basis for a long time.

Then I had my surgery.

In that post, I glossed over the first three to five months of my recovery, in which the fear of me possibly not waking up in the morning was always in the back of my mind.  The memory of a twice-occurring moving “numbness” starting at my scar and moving partway down my leg and then moving sequentially though my arm, fingers, face and tongue nagged at me.  Even though it happened only twice (and was probably just a set of nerves firing), I feared that I would stroke out while asleep and die.

Before I closed my eyes every night, crossing myself, I’d recite an almost forgotten prayer from my childhood:

As I lay me down to sleep,

I pray the Lord my soul to keep;

And if I die before I wake,

I pray the Lord my soul to take.

Amen.

I’d fall asleep with my super-sensitive scar reacting to the movement of my shirt, only to wake up the next morning.

Little by little, the number of times I woke up started to eat away at my fear.  Back then I could tell you exactly how many months, weeks, and days it had been since I was cut open.  As they added up, with me getting slowly better, I was able to face the fear and deal with it.

To be honest, I became content with the worst-case outcome and accepted it at face value.  I didn’t try to escape via alcohol or drugs.  If it was going to happen, it would happen, and I had no control over if it did or did not.

Coming to grips with the possibility of death, although miniscule in my case, brings things in your life into perspective.  It helps you to realize that those things you worry or have anxiety about are trivial in the grand scheme of things.  And why should you spend your limited time on this here planet if you are afraid to act?

Talking to a pretty girl?  No big deal.

Giving that big presentation?  Don’t worry.

Up for your yearly assessment?  Child’s play.

Because at the end of the day, you’re going to end up in a pine box buried six feet under or as ashes in an urn.  So don’t be afraid to try new things or undertake a task that might be painful.  Live your life without regrets, because you only have one to live.

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