“Waiting is not a passive activity.”
~ Lynn Scheurell
Everyone possesses fear, whether it is the fear of a person, a situation or of possible scenarios. Fear is a basic human emotion steaming back to our early human survival skills when the fears were all real and survival was dependent on how we handled our encounter with fear. Now the fears are more abstract, but just as real. There is no animal chasing us and we don’t depend on our ancestors’ hunting and gathering skills for survival either, but modern fears, especially in this economic climate, exist in a very real form for many of us.
My fears stem back to my childhood, growing up with my sister, being raised by our mother, a single parent in the days when this was neither common nor popular. It started when we walked to school hearing the warnings of our mother playing in our head, “Don’t talk to strangers” when I felt so relieved just to make it the two blocks to school safely, not encountering any of the dreaded strangers on my way. The underlying fear of not having “enough” permeated my childhood. Clothes were most often hand-me-downs from friends of the family, lessons in the arts were for other children in my class and cultural trips to museums were rare. The treasured musical theater matinees were the escape we longed for, and the recorded soundtrack albums worn from the multitude of listening, evoking the memories of the actors on the stage at the theater in the round performances we saw at a local theater.
As I grew up, the fears became more typical, hoping for healthy babies, the ability to care for them, provide for them and do a good job raising successful children. These fears were the kind that inspired hard work and diligent research in order to become a good parent and it became a full-time job to raise children and maintain the house in addition to the other full-time job, the one that paid the bills. Then came the fears of reclaiming the self I had shut up for so long and the question of who I would become once my job of raising children was completed (for the time being). The question loomed in the dark corners, punctuated by little annoyances; who was I, and was our relationship still there under the surface of years of distraction?
Today the fears are more terrifying and we don’t know where this road will take us. The anonymous frustration of being caught in the complications of a society dependent for years on credit formulas and loans requiring a specialist’s degree for understanding. A simple phone call for an explanation or question is fed to automated menus and contact with a real person is rare. The trained phone staff read from scripts and is not entrusted with actual information or knowledge but instead, trained to divert calls from the few who know. The secret knowledge and the solutions are hidden away in the offices of the people who rest on the security of their position of the knowledge and for those of us stranded here, the uncertain future remains our fear.