It was bright and sunny on Sunday. It was one of those delicious days where the world, kissed by Spring, responds in technicolor radiance: green flowed from the hillsides and the blue sky was in perfect contrast to white clouds.
It was a perfect day to be spirited and upbeat, and yet, I felt crabby.
I was duking it out between love or fear and fear was winning. And, I was annoyed by that realization, which made the day feel even less sparkly and wonderful.
Love or Fear: Two Opposing Emotions
Various spiritual teachings promote the idea that the many words we attribute to a host of feelings – happiness, anxiety, joy, resentment, peace, sadness, contentment, frustration – can be distilled down to two fundamental emotions: love or fear.
All positive emotions come from love, all negative emotions from fear: from love flows happiness, contentment, peace, and joy; from fear comes anger, hate, anxiety and guilt.
As Elisabeth Kubler-Ross & David Kessler point out:
“If we’re in fear, we are not in a place of love. When we’re in a place of love, we cannot be in a place of fear. Can you think of a time when you’ve been in both love and fear? It’s impossible. We have to make a decision to be in one place or the other. There is no neutrality in this. If you don’t actively choose love, you will find yourself in a place of either fear or one of its component feelings. Every moment offers the choice to choose one or the other.”
Love or Fear: A Tale of Everyday Life
So what does this tussle between love and fear look like when played out in everyday life and ordinary circumstances?
Based on my personal experience this weekend, it goes something like this:
First of all, to set the stage: Over a month ago, my guy got the idea that it would be fun to run across Dane County (where we live) on the Ice Age Trail, a 1,100 mile footpath traversing our fair state of Wisconsin. The segment of trail through Dane County is 66 miles long. Deciding it would be more fun to run with others, he turned it into a two-day “race” event; Saturday a 35 mile run; Sunday a 31 mile run.
I agreed to run on Saturday and help with race logistics on Sunday.
All went well on Saturday (including some character-building snow squalls and 35 mile per hour wind gusts). I got in a good solid run, running 20 of the 35, which went as I had planned. I helped at the finish line until the last runners arrived at 6:30 p.m. LOVE.
Sunday dawned beautiful and clear and temperatures predicted into the 60s. Suddenly, helping out ALL DAY at a race event didn’t sound like so much fun. I started thinking about all the things I’d rather be doing – like going for a bike ride or cleaning out the garden – instead of schlepping water coolers to aid stations or sitting at the finish line waiting for runners. I started feeling resentful. FEAR.
Thus began a long day of Ping-Pong between love or fear.
One minute I could generate loving thoughts and feelings and then suddenly, they would be flipped by negative fear-based ones.
Fear sounded like this:
“Why did I agree to help out today? That was stupid.”
“I cannot believe I am spending two 12-hour days focused on running!”
Annoyance at being able to only fit in a 3 mile run while everyone else got to run 31 miles.
Frustration at having to be inside at the finish line by 1:30 p.m.
Feeling envious when women on road bikes peddled past.
Making sure Jason knew he “owed” me for this long weekend.
Love sounded like this:
“I’m so glad I can support Jason in his passion for running.”
“I’m delighted I got in a 3 mile run at Indian Lake.”
Noticing the beautiful day and celebrating it was warm enough to wear shorts.
Cheering the runners as they arrived at the finish line.
Being appreciative of the other volunteer who donated her morning to help with runner support.
Thinking about what the runners might want to eat at the last aid station and stocking the station with appropriate snacks.
Love or Fear: Moment to Moment Choices
Every moment, throughout the day, offered me the opportunity to choose love or fear.
Would I focus on the big WHY behind what I was doing (honoring my agreement to help, my love for Jason, wanting to support his passions)…
Would I focus on how I wasn’t getting to do exactly what I wanted (sleep in, go for a bike ride)?
I’m sad to say, fear generally won the day. The loving moments were fleeting and the tussle between knowing love was the best choice and choosing fear, anyway, stole my joy. Instead of feeling happy and sparkly, and showing up as my best, most supportive self, I felt grumpy.
What about you?
Where in your life do you tussle with love or fear?
What does fear look or sound like for you?
What does love look or sound like for you?
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