On Fear

I’ve become obsessed with mortality. I keep thinking, I’m thirty-one and repeating that as if it’s eighty-one and it’s so monumental a number, I can’t imagine how I’ve gotten to this place. What is it about rounding the corner from thirty that’s getting under my skin? Is it the biological clock thing, the idea that even if I’m not dying, something inside me is? Or is it the fact that I haven’t become anything yet? The fact that when I look at my parents now, I can see how they aren’t young anymore. And I worry about what they hoped I would be at this point, for them. Then I think that it’s that “fear of failure” I professed at the beginning of my very first workshop in Squaw Valley that is at the heart of all this crap. And do I think aging is failing, because you aren’t supposed to age if you’ve figured it all out, if you’ve become the person you were meant to become?

And who is that? Mother, wife, author, leader, actualized adult? A better Indian? A better daughter? A writer who’s had actual, tangible, society-approved success? What if I never become that person, does that mean I did actually fail, because I let the years pass by and nothing ever became of them?

Fear of failure, fear of dying, fear of wrinkles, fear of breaking my hip, is it all the same? Fear of being incapacitated against the potential that I could still have? Is this why when I see anyone younger than twenty-five, I lecture them about the opportunities they need to seize, the courage they need to have to conquer the things I was too shy or scared to conquer? Is this why, I’ve started to sound like an old lady, sharing lessons of the past that almost start with the phrase “In my day” but most often come out like, “Go to the party now because later, you won’t be able to and you’ll regret it”?

Regret, the fucking word. Is that the real thing here? If I was capable of living in the moment, without any sense of regret, would I feel fear the same way, or would I just be living, doing my best?

I’m asking a lot of questions, because I don’t know the answers. I just have fear.