I often wonder why these four short words always sounded sinister to me. When my sister told us these kinds of stories she would set the mood. We would put blankets on the floor and light candles. She would get us to sit still and listen to the silence. She would wait until she was sure that we were listening and start with a quiet almost whispering sinister voice, “Legend has it that …”. These stories usually took us down a scary path where fearful things happen. They usually involved darkness, old deserted houses, and lonely old people. She would take us on a journey that involved facing our fears and in the end finding our courage.
Facing Your Fears, Part Two
There were four frightening events that happened in my life when I was very young. They forever changed the way I lived my life going forward. Like the legends of old the stories’ outcomes are about facing fear and finding the way to walk life’s path with courage and confidence. I call these stories The Four Faces of Fear. This is part two of my journey beyond fear.
Legend has it that A monster rooster roamed the farm and after his morning crowing, he would perch on an old tree stump in our backyard waiting for the unattended child to cross his domain. I had stayed up late reading Tom Sawyer and decided that I would play sick and not work in the fields today. I would go on a great adventure. We had a creek that ran through several farms with a well-worn path beside it. I could go on my adventure and still be back in bed before the mid-day break.
The tobacco field was about a quarter mile from the house so the only way to the creek was across our backyard. The backyard was the great rooster’s domain. No one crossed his territory without him extracting a deadly toll.
I stood on the back porch waiting and watching him. He was way over in the corner of the yard on his stump. Oh yea, he was watching me. I would take a step then back up. He would go prancing across the yard. He knew I wanted to cross the yard and he knew that when I did I would be his. He wasn’t going anywhere. It was his yard and sooner or later I would pay.
My dog, Cookie, sat on the far side of the yard barking. She was not about to come across that yard and help me out. She had felt the rooster’s claws on more than one occasion. Sometimes Mom would throw scraps of food out the back door causing a feeding frenzy, cats, dogs, hens and loose pigs scrambled for the food. In the end, they all fell prey to the rooster’s claws and brutal pecking. Once he locked onto you, it was all over in a flurry of flying feathers and animal fur. If one of the dogs or cats got lucky, if you can call it lucky and latched on to a chunk of food, the rooster would follow them relentlessly, under the house, through the woods or into the creek until he came strutting back food in his beak. Who needed a boogie man when this clawed creature stalked us without mercy?
He knew I had to cross that yard or go back defeated and shamed and he knew that when I took off running he would punish me. After all who was I to think that I could stroll across his yard? Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. I knew what was coming, Cookie knew what was coming. The Rooster was certain as to what was about to happen. We all had our parts to play.
I looked at Cookie, Cookie looked at me. Off I went never touching the steps. I hit the yard at a run, arms pumping, and hair flying in the wind. The rooster waited. I thought I am going to make it. I am going to outrun that beast. My whole being was filled with an incredible rush of fear and exhilaration. Yes, yes Cookie was barking from the creek cheering me on. I was almost there. Just a few feet and a leap over the creek and I would be safe.
Then the rooster hit me from behind claws digging deep into my back, pain pushing me forward, leaving a trail of little round holes all over my body. I landed right smack on top of the electric fence pushing it down, shocking my whole body and burning me everywhere it touched. The rooster finished with me flew over and thrashed Cookie. She went running toward the creek. The rooster walked back to his stump and waited to see if I wanted more.
After a few tears and some burn marks, Momma came around the corner of the house. She took an inventory of me. Shirt shredded, I had scratches and little-pecking holes from the rooster all down my back and burns on my legs from the eclectic fence. Mom was mad I knew but I caught a glimmer of compassion in her eyes. I asked her why the rooster didn’t attack her. She smiled and said I am the one that feeds him. From that day forward I fed the beast and after a while, I walked across that yard bold and fearless. The rooster still eyed me but never did thrash me again.
Point Of View
I learned that day that sometimes even when fear eats at your very being you just have to face it head on or that fear lives within you every day of your life. I had lived many years afraid of that rooster until that day when he did his worst to me and I still ran across that yard. Fear crushes your confidence and leaves you helpless to be your best self. We have to face our fears knowing that it can be painful. Once done you leave the fear behind like an ever fading memory. You can again dream and be fearless in life.
Granted I could have asked my Mom a long time before that day why she was not afraid of the beast. I guess some lessons have to be learned the hard way because we don’t know the right questions to ask. Maybe mom had her day with the rooster and knew I had to face it alone to overcome my fear.