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A Conversation With Fear


Part One,
“The Moment of Fear”

Chapter 1
“Meeting the Moment”

Page 2


that vital moment, those mundane acts of maintenance will stack up one after the other and turn living into a chronic support system for life.

What then do we want to avoid? What huge tension vibrates inside that miniscule moment that we do not want to face? Is it all the possibility inherent in the push-off? In that moment, we decide to leave behind firm ground and surrender ourselves into air. We willingly suspend the control that comforts us, and give ourselves over to the possibility, rather than the certainty, of landing. The moment carries a gravity not only for the body but for the soul. We become electrified, tense, engaged along our entire lengths: we are entering a mystery, a question. To do this, we must welcome, as in sex, a tiny death. This moment is an infinitesimal microcosm of life, packed with a pulsing larger than ourselves. And our proximity to this energy—electric, magnetic, divine—infuses a beauty into the homey comforts of our lives. What else can make the dish drainer shine so?

I remember the first time this moment took on a life of its own and I became aware of its force, a puppet of its push and pull. When I was a teenager, I loved to jump off rocky ledges into small pools of water along with my older brother and his friends. Then I fell in love, and following my sweetheart, I made all sorts of unprotected leaps, across a deep chasm onto another outcropping, or across rushing water to grab an overhang. Though I was aware that I could not make a mistake, I never told myself that. If I had articulated my focus it would have been, Do this. Exactly this. Now. The first time was the only time. My awareness squeezed itself down into that one jump. There was nothing left over, no thoughts leaking out the edges, no anticipation or fear of what was farther ahead.

Then it changed. I was nineteen, still in love. Four of us went to Huntington Gorge in the northwestern part of Vermont. Rocky

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