Lucie Stastkova

Love, Fear, and Gratitude

Lucie Stastkova
Image courtesy of Lucie Stastkova

What is love? Not romantic love, but the essence of love, pure and unadulterated. Pure love lightens and enlightens. But what is it? In truth, love can’t be defined; we can only talk around it. In attempting to de-fine it, we con-fine it and thus lose it. Love simply is. And love is our true nature.

What is the opposite of love? Many would say hate. Seems logical, right? When we’re not sitting in love, expanded and with an open heart, we’re struggling to keep our heads above the quicksand of raw emotion. Truth is: the opposite of love is fear. All that isn’t love stems from fear. Love and fear are our primeval baseline emotions.

So what is this seemingly ubiquitous, all-consuming emotion we call fear? When we constrict – when our hearts close, our muscles tighten, our thoughts ricochet, our spirits dim – we sit in fear, unable or unwilling to be present to all around us. Like love, fear cannot be defined; but it can be characterized.

When the heart closes, fear is at the helm. And if we’re not careful, it will control our every thought and deed while masquerading as benign feelings. Fear is at the root of prejudice, hate, anger, grief, anxiety, depression, and all that’s not conceived of love.

But, you might argue, babies are born with certain defensive reflexes that present as fear. When they hear a sudden loud noise or sense they might be dropped, they throw out their arms and legs, extend their necks, and often begin to cry. This is the Moro or startle reflex. When an object or another’s face comes close to theirs, they quickly turn their heads away. This is the withdrawal reflex. These and several other innate reflexes are survival mechanisms that, with the exception of the withdrawal reflex, disappear within the first year of life.

So we could say there are circumstances that necessitate giving in to some of our baser emotions, such as fight or flight. And we would be correct if true survival rather than a fabrication of fear were at stake. It serves to remember that fight or flight is as much a reflex as the knee-jerk reaction. It’s to our benefit to recognize intense raw emotion when it arises, take in a deep breath or two or ten, and center ourselves for action or nonaction rather than reaction.

Lucie Stastkova
Image courtesy of Lucie Stastkova

What about righteous indignation? Does this also stem from fear? I posit it does. There’s a difference between being angry and being definite, between reacting and taking action. An example might be the Women’s Marches that took place on January 21st of this year in all 50 U.S. states, in 57 different countries, and on all 7 continents. Millions of people gathered globally in nonviolent resistance. Speakers and participants interviewed spoke with decisiveness and conviction.

I’ll use myself as another example. The current government in my country (U.S.) is pushing to privatize Medicare (gov’t facilitated senior health care plan) and slash Social Security (gov’t facilitated retirement plan). Citizens contribute to these programs most often through payroll deduction, each and every pay period. When we retire, we’re eligible to collect Social Security; our monthly checks are based on the total amount of money we paid into the program. At age 65 or 2 years after becoming disabled, we’re eligible for the Medicare program.

I became eligible for both programs in my forties, when disabled by a chronic illness. Because I contributed to each program for only half of my expected working life, my income is low; but I’m able to get by. However, if Medicare is privatized (officiated by insurance companies) and Social Security is slashed (grand theft!), I’d be hard-pressed to provide for myself. Does the thought of this evoke fear? You bet it does. I could lose my health insurance. Does it evoke anger? Without a doubt. I could lose the roof over my head. But how I respond to these raw emotions is my choice and mine alone.

So what am I doing about all of this? I don’t claim to be perfect or have all the answers for every situation I encounter. I could dwell in the future, living in fear of the worst possible scenario; or I could stay in the present, decisively speaking and sharing the truth to the best of my knowledge while keeping my heart and mind open. I’ve chosen the latter, knowing full well I might fall short at times. I might scream in anger and wear thin a few floor boards, but hopefully I’ll hear myself and channel that reactive energy into something positive. Hopefully, I’ll remember who I am and move into gratitude.

I’m ever mindful of the limitless possibilities of the Universe. I’m acutely aware that energy follows thought. Some days are more of a struggle than others. Not knowing what my unpredictable government will do next could devastate me. But I won’t allow fear to be my guide through the uncertainty of every day. And I will remain mindful of all for which I am grateful.

That brings me to this question: Are humans capable of facing or fleeing a dangerous situation, or rising up against injustice, without engaging fear? I trust we are; we simply don’t know how, for the most part. We’re not taught, especially in the western world, how to remain centered in the face of adversity.

Lucie Stastkova
Image courtesy of Lucie Stastkova
When we are seated in fear, we are not seated in love.

Close your eyes and think of something you fear. Notice how your mid-section constricts. Notice how confined you feel and how heavy your body becomes. When in a state of fear, we run the risk of freezing in body, mind, emotion, and spirit. When we do move, we’re like a little gerbil running aimlessly on her little wheel inside her little cage, going nowhere, running fast to stand still.

So how do we get off this wheel of self-inflicted angst? Gratitude. Once we move into gratitude, we can go anywhere. Gratitude is the key that opens the heart, fosters joy, expands tolerance of diversity, evokes compassion, presages wisdom. And gratitude is rooted in love.

I speak of this in my novel, Plateau: Beyond the Trees, Beyond 2012. W’Hyani is a 15-year-old tribal female who discovers her strengths and destiny by overcoming adversity. Her will is tested time and again, daring her to trust blindly in overcoming fear. She ultimately comes face-to-face with herself in a battle that would shrink the will of the most intrepid warrior. Although born strong and willful, she is challenged to remain undaunted. Will love prevail over fear?

During this time of great change, millions across the globe are asking this question. Plateau offers hope with its underlying message: We must keep our hearts open and act from love instead of reacting from fear; we must practice gratitude and compassion within every moment and with every breath; and in so doing, we will help elevate the human species to higher consciousness, facilitating personal and global peace.

Embryonic emotions are raw. We unenlightened beings have little control over their presence and character. What we can control is whether we react to or act on them. We’re not only capable of controlling our actions, but also have a responsibility to do so. Love and fear are contagious. We are bound by higher consciousness to become self-aware, develop insight, be grateful for the life we chose, and behave in accordance with our true nature: Love.

My hope is that all the peoples of the world soon realize we are all one. This is as plausible as any other scenario, because thought forms are what create our material world. May we all dwell in gratitude, fearlessly giving and receiving love . . .

Until the next time, my friends . . . Namaste

© Tina Frisco 2015

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