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 One
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 one of my journey beyond fear.
Legend has it that there is a cave dug into the bank along the creek where a great serpent lives. It is said that early in the mornings just before first light the serpent wanders the land looking for prey. Needless to say, after hearing this first story, I got very little sleep that night and many slithering dreams.
Finally, after a restless night of sleep, I woke to a hot, humid morning. Even though it was only five a.m. you could feel the heat building on the tin roof. A slight breeze rustled the white cotton curtains in my bedroom. But there was no relief from the July heat. My sisters were already up and we went to the chicken coop to gather eggs. It was still dark and sunrise was not yet creeping into the eastern sky. I had the story about the serpent still echoing in my mind so I was being very cautious. We crept into the chicken coop and the hens started to cackle. As gently as we could we remove the freshly laid eggs. I could feel something lurking in the shadows, slight whispers of noise teasing my mind. The smell of fear was heavy in the air.
My sister, Carol was chopping wood for the stove and we still had to get water from the well to prime the pump in the kitchen. We were longing for the smell of bacon and scrambled eggs, and a high stack of pancakes with heated maple syrup to pour on them would be a taste to delight the senses.
I brought the eggs to mom and went back to help my sisters. Just like in my nightmares there lay the largest Copperhead snake curled up between me and my sister. She was just standing there silently crying and not making a sound. I yelled at her to stand still and I threw rocks at the snake. It turned and looked at me. I was so afraid but I could not let it hurt my sister. The only weapon I could find was a tobacco stick laying in the yard that I had been playing with the day before. The snake was facing my sister again so I ran as quietly as I could toward the snake. Fear totally embraced my whole being. It was a fear so engulfing that my screams were silent. I started to beat the snake over and over as I ran around and around it hitting it over and over. My sister was screaming so loud and I thought she would never stop. I felt arms around me and my daddy lifting me up and away. He walked over to the snake with a shovel and it didn’t move. I felt like I grew up a lot that day. My daddy nicknamed me Copperhead which people still call me. My sister wrote a story about a Dragon Slayer that saves the princess in distress … Legend has it that …
Point Of View
I am not sure it was courage that made me help my sister. I think it was my love for her that made me risk my life to help her. Fear totally filled my spirit that day. I was frightened beyond words but not frozen with fear. I was able to react without thought and even at five years old I knew what I had to do.
I have often felt that the reason so many people don’t become successful is a fear of succeeding. They may have the skill and the knowledge but somewhere deep inside them that one thing they need to succeed is missing or they are unable to tap into the courage they needed to step through the open door to be successful.
Life cannot give you courage. It has to come from within. It has to be something that you have faced in life and conquered. Fear is something you have to face often in life. It has many faces. It can be personal, business or the fury of nature. Regardless of what it is, life has given you the tools and the knowledge to face anything. It is up to you how you face your fears or rather embrace your courage. As my sister always told me, in life, be strong, be courageous and be a dragon slayer.