Fear of Life

I was looking for a good quote just now to summarise how I’m feeling. I found the following by Mark Twain: “The fear of death follows from the fear of life.” It made a lot of sense. I spend too much time thinking, worrying and trying to stave off, sometimes by supersticious rituals, harm coming to the people I love and myself. I count magpies, I pull eyelashes to make wishes, I throw coins into every waterfall, fountain and pond. I wish on stars and cross my fingers under the table. These feelings grow in strength when I’m faced with a new challenge: a foreign country, an unfamiliar hotel room, a criticism. So here I am tonight infusing myself with fear at the thought of being away from home alone for 5 days. Every scenario has played out in my mind – not one has been positive. But my reasons for catching the train tomorrow are actually all about life: challenges, progress, the unknown, taking a chance. I’m used to sneaking away from school, college, Univeristy x 4, feeling inadequate and unable to speak. If that happens again, it’s comfortable in a way. Maybe what’s more frightening is joining in, taking the chance of being heard. I laughed this week when my friend Kath Burlinson (a very positive person) reminded me of our family way of thinking: “What if something goes wrong?” “But what if something goes right?” she said. Scarier in a way! That being the whole point of my blog this far and something I need to change.

We had some sunshine for once this weekend and it felt like spring. There were daffodils everywhere and the ponies seemed to skip a bit in the fields on the way to Buttermere. There were calves and lambs and a kestrel and some unidentified rodent, possibly a vole, that crossed the path in front of us and disappeared into an identical hole in the grass on the other side. We walked to Sour Milk Ghyll, a strange name I think as the water’s white and frothy as freshly squeezed milk and comes down with a force that would never let it sour. We climbed half the way up, slipping on the mossy rocks and clinging on to tipped trees with whole sections of roots exposed to the sky. We didn’t get all the way to Bleaberry Tarn due to silly footwear and the need for food and beer. We had a really good late lunch, early tea, in The Bridge and drove home for a nap singing Steve Knightley songs that lapsed into a silly conversation about old ladies getting stuck in wheelie bins (apparently it does happen and might have been on the Jeremy Vine show, although I’m a bit doubtful!).

So tonight I’m a bit anxious about the Avon course, but also excited and I’ve got a new wheelie suitcase which will make a big difference to my constantly aching wrist that’s never healed after a fracture. I’m looking forward to getting trains there and reading on the way. As this week’s shown again – as it does all over the world every day of every week – none of us can every really know what’s going to happen tomorrow. The best weapons against fear are bravery and determination (and a bit of gin helps too).

Author: kittydonnellypoet

Kitty Donnelly was born in Oxford in 1979. Her mother was born in Cumbria, of Irish origin, and her father was born in Newry, Northern Ireland. She has lived in London, Cumbria, Swansea and Chichester. She had poems published in Acumen in 2005, as well as being long and short-listed for several poetry competitions. She was also published in The Samaritan's Anthology and by The Forward Press. In 2007, she took a long break from submitting poems after having her daughter. In 2016, she has been Commended in the Southport Writer's Circle Poetry Competition, long-listed for the Canterbury University Poet of the Year 2016 and has had work accepted for publication in The Dawntreader. She currently lives in Cumbria where she works as a psychiatric nurse.

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