Friday Philosophy: Overcoming Fear

The WeaveMothers watched the train switch to the happentrack which they had just finished.  The transition was as smooth as ever it could be.  

The Engineer guided some steam through the whistle.

And the Storyteller began the tail of the Girl and the Five Fears.

Somewhere in a swamp

In mystic crocodiles’ domain

Live Loneliness, Humiliation,

Loss and Death and Pain

The Girl awoke, nearly face down on an island in a swamp.  She was dirty and wet and extremely uncomfortable.  Inspection of her arms and legs revealed many bruises and scrapes.

She could remember little of how she got here.  She did seem to recall walking/stumbling along as the water got higher and what land there was became muddier.

Nor could she recall why she came here.  Thinking back, the last thing she could remember was falling asleep with the others on a moonless night.  Had she wandered away from them?  Or were they the ones who left, leaving her behind?

She thought she saw a flicker of motion behind some scrubby bushes to her right.  She tried to stand to get a better look and discovered a sharp pain in her ankle.  There was more motion, this time to her left.

And she began to be afraid.  They might see how helpless she was, lost in this place.  When she thought that, she saw another movement, this time directly in front of her, hidden by a tree.  And she called out to whoever was there, begging for whoever was there to show themselves.

Part of a head of one of the beings peeked out from behind a bush.  A leg and an arm of another was visible as well, not quite hidden by a tree.The creatures appeared humanoid, but seemed very fragile.  The Girl asked them to help her.

As she spoke, the creatures cowered and shivered.  One of them finally responded.  She said they were too afraid to help her.  They were afraid of her.  Finally Pain, for that is what she said her name was, stepped out into the open, still keeping a safe distance between them, and the others showed themselves as well.

There were five of them.  The Girl learned that the names of the others were Loneliness, Humiliation, Loss and Death.  Pain told the Girl that she had been wandering through the Forest of Fear and become mired in the Swamp of Submission until she found this place…their home…the Slough of Despond.

When the Girl asked why they didn’t leave this place. the Five answered that they couldn’t.  This is where they lived and it was too dangerous to attempt leaving.  And furthermore, this is now where she lived…and she wouldn’t be able to leave either.

“You came for a reason,” one of them said.  “It was your own attitudes which guided you here.”

_ # ^ &  _ # ^ &  _ # ^ &  _

Fear is like that.  Once it gets a really good grip on you, there isn’t much you can do but just try to get from one day to the next.  I know.  I was there…for most of my life.  I was over 40 years old when I finally started to break out of it.  It was definitely not easy.  It most definitely will be easier for me to talk about it than it was to do it.


I started getting the upper hand when it occurred to me that Death might be the easier way out, that dying would at least be the end of my pain.  Forever after it became…and has remained, a viable option.  Every day has since been an exercise in living on house money if I choose that day to not be the day I die.  And everything else just fell into place.  Coming out as being transsexual is not so hard if the worst thing that could happen was that I died for doing so.  And coming out cured my fear of Humiliation, for what could be more humiliating than to have my whole community considering my life to be nothing but a joke…and me to be a target of their jokes.  In my heart I knew that it was I who was free and they who were not.  If someone had a problem with me being who I was, it was their problem and not mine.

I did have to overcome the fear of Loss, the loss of my profession, my friends, and my family.  Some of that happened, but some of it didn’t.  I survived.

Pain is easy to overcome if one has no fear of death.  At least it was for me.  Beat me if you must.  I will stand proud of who I am, what I have done, and who I have become.

And that only leaves Loneliness, which I have found hardest to overcome.  Fear of rejection has hounded me my entire life.  But somehow I found that I had more friends after transition than I had before…eventually.  The years before “eventually” came to pass were difficult, but I always had an option…a way out.

And I found that adopting a mission, deciding to spend as much of my lifetime as I could helping others however I was able, kept me saying, “Not today.”  And whenever it seemed like the mission had hit a snag, I have stepped it up a notch, trying to help others on a more difficult level.

If the world isn’t a fit place for people like me, then the world needs to change.  I will continue to do that and continue to try to make that happen…no matter how many people express the notion that people like me don’t belong in their world.

Out of fear comes Hate.  And Fear comes out of Ignorance.  To stop the Hate therefore, one must eliminate the Ignorance.  And I will try to eradicate the Ignorance until my last breath.

_ # ^ &  _ # ^ &  _ # ^ &  _

Releasing Fear

One day the Girl

had had enough

She called the Fears together

and they all held hands

And they marched away

from Despondency

Pain was afraid of falling

Humiliation was afraid of failure

and looking foolish

Loss feared leaving behind

what they had

Loneliness feared being separated

Death feared the crocodiles

For an instant

the Girl lost her resolve

and the crocodiles appeared

and the fears wanted to turn

and run away

but the Girl screamed

and lightning struck

and the forest burned

as the Girl and the fears

crouched in the swamp

until the forest

was no more

The Girl led the Fears

to the edge of the swamp

and sent them on their way

And she walked

proudly forward

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–June 5, 2009


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  1. Robyn

    …and the volumes my stories are embellishments of is not coincidence, even though it was 8 years after I read them that I found myself.

    The WeaveMothers have appeared before.  In what passes for chronological order, they are here:

    Weaving Reality

    Picking up the rhythm

    Nebulous answers to cogent questions

    Looking back at the present


    On the Thickness of Skin

    Waging Peace

    Stone Soup


    The Dedos


    What Shenshi Did

    Having ready Michael Greatrex Coney’s, Song of Earth (Book 1 is now at Google Books) is also helpful.  Or you could just relax and accept the possibility of the Celestial Steam Locomotive passing through the Greataway.

  2. BruceMcF

    If the world isn’t a fit place for people like me, then the world needs to change.

  3. buhdydharma

    Just like….

  4. Nightprowlkitty

    … a tour de force.  Such powerful healing energy.

    Bless you.

    And thanks for the Janice.

  5. Robyn


  6. davidseth

    Thanks for writing this.

    It is truly a gift when you take the personal into the mythic.  The Shaman in me appreciates that.  May your sacred journey be blessed.  

  7. Alma

    I agree with Kitty, its all a master piece.  The essay, the art and the poem.  The beauty of it had a tear rolling down my cheek.

    I feel blessed to have you in my world dear friend.  

  8. lezlie

    I’m a little late to the party, but I’m glad I came.

    Robyn, you write with such passion… it always touches me… your poems and stories are all wonderful, this one is outstanding.

    Thank you for being you!

  9. Robyn

    It is also the case that I define “people like me” broadly.

  10. Robyn

    I’m really partial to the Fish song as well. :-)

  11. Nightprowlkitty

    And the poem is one as well.

  12. Nightprowlkitty

    I mean masterpiece in the literal sense of the word … “master-piece.”  Like you are a guildmember who learned a great craft and produces certain pieces which are master-pieces.

    The tour de force adjective was me trying to describe the good power (good vibes, good energy) pouring out of this writing.

  13. Robyn

    …still hangs in the neighborhood when I attempt imaginative prose.

  14. Nightprowlkitty

    … that gives it extra flavor.

  15. BruceMcF

    «nt» signifie «non texte»

  16. davidseth

    I applaud you for posting there.  But then I have to visit and make sure that the comments are acceptable to my high standards of humanity.  Tonight I’m not so exhausted that the voyage seems hard, so I’m happy to go.  Thanks for your journey.  It really is an inspiration.  

  17. Robyn

    That really means a lot.  {{{{{HUG}}}}}

  18. Robyn

    …if I am allowed to write my own epitaph, it would be:

    Write the truth

    from the heart

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