“What I Fear Most” is the homework (tarea) essay in my Spanish Conversation Group this week. I have been brooding about this for a few days and realize that I try not to think about my fears. Focusing on fear doesn’t make it go away, though if you spend much time talking about your fears, your friends are likely to take a hike.
Franklin D. Roosevelt told a worried nation in his 1933 Inaugural Address, “…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” That is largely true, though fear of losing one’s job may cause a person to avoid challenging the boss, even when (s)he is clearly wrong. The rest of Roosevelt’s sentence: “the only thing we have to fear is….nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” (Congress, take heed.) Dwelling on fears is not helpful but doing something to eliminate them is a different matter.
Recognizing moments of happiness is useful for staving off fears. A few mornings ago (1) I had just finished a phone chat with my daughter and (2) settled into a Donna Leon mystery when (3) my cat curled up next to me and (4) a heavy rain began pounding against the windows. I suddenly realized how happy all those things together made me. This month’s Proust Questionnaire (the last page of every Vanity Fair magazine issue) features Pedro Almodóvar, the Spanish director of Pain and Glory and many, many other great films. Asked, “When and where were you happiest?” he replied: “The first time I went to a samba school in Rio de Janeiro. The whole neighborhood was rehearsing in plain clothes the numbers they’d perform during the Carnaval.” It’s hard to top a moment of happiness like that.
Have a Happy Week!