I loved “Batman Begins” when it first came out. It has since been greatly overshadowed in my mind by “The Dark Knight”, but it is still a very good film. In some ways, it feels like a deconstruction of the Batman mythos. One of the scenes I really love happens when Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham City and starts on his quest toward becoming a crimefighter. He begins to develop the Batman persona and his loyal butler Alfred asks him “Why bats?” His answer?
“Bats terrify me”
Think about this; this man who is now going to dedicate much of his future life to being dressed like a bat and making bat-everything to get his point across, adopts the one thing he fears to be his official symbol. He decides to associate with his fears. It’s actually a pretty remarkable element of the character.
Most of us intentionally disassociate with our fears. We avoid those things that frighten us or we refuse to admit to ourselves and/or others that we are actually afraid. This is foolishness. Our fears, to a long degree define our reality. I don’t mean by that that because I fear being a bad father that I am, in fact, a bad father. Hopefully the opposite is true, but that fear defines my reality. I actively work against that fear. I am driven by it. I make life decisions based around it. I am moved by it. I am stopped by it. Like it or not, I have become companions with this fear.
And so if my fears are to be my companions, I must name them. I must embrace them, not as my masters, nor really as my slaves, but as my associates, my companions on the journey. So…
I’m afraid of failure.
I’m afraid of success.
I’m afraid of being alone.
I’m afraid of being around people and still feeling alone.
I’m afraid of being a bad father.
I’m afraid of being incapable of being a good husband.
I’m afraid that I’ll never be content.
I’m afraid of working at my current job forever.
I’m afraid that there is no job that I will find fulfilling.
I’m afraid of being incompetent.
I’m afraid of being useless.
I’m afraid of being unwanted and unattractive.
I’m afraid that I’ll never have enough money.
I’m afraid that the world won’t be better for my having been in it.
I’m afraid of being like everybody else.
I’m afraid of being different
I’m afraid of being ordinary.
I’m afraid of the burden of being special.
I’m afraid that my children will question how much I love them.
I’m afraid that I’m not actually capable of love.
I’m afraid of frogs.
I’m afraid of clowns.
I’m afraid of being eaten by sharks.
I’m afraid that sharks won’t eat me because I don’t taste good.
I’m afraid of being all talk.
I’m afraid of not thinking through my actions.
I’m afraid of being in the way.
I’m afraid of being an inconvenience, nuisance, or burden.
i’m afraid that I’ll always be depressed.
I’m afraid that being “happy” won’t be all it’s cracked up to be.
I’m not afraid of death. I am afraid of boredom.
I’m afraid of being afraid of the wrong things.
I’m afraid of my fears getting in the way of me living my life.
This probably isn’t an exhaustive list of my fears. These things are my companions. They are with me all the time. They are the places where my life is most real. They are the things I face and try to overcome everyday. They will be there tomorrow when I wake up. It seems foolish to deny them. Naming them gives them less power over me, but it doesn’t make them go away. I guess if they’re not going anywhere, we can at least be friends, right?