Three and a half years ago, while participating in the initiation of the new monitors of a day camp, we were asked some very serious questions, profound and personal.
One of them was “what are you afraid of?”
Taking it very seriously, if only for myself, I needed a few minutes to clearly identify what was my main fear. Was I more afraid of leeches or drowning? Of confined spaces or spiders?
When my turn to answer came, I did not hesitate:
“I’m afraid to miss life.”
“Missing life” – or seeing life pass me by – or not was not for me about a successful career, a dream job or a happy marriage. It was not a question of sport achievements or social recognition in any way.
I was thinking of my passions.
I was afraid to postpone, waive or even forget these passions. And – especially – to never really come back to them. Because I could see no other reason to live than these very passions. To take them by the hand, to the dance floor, until the music stops.
It was perhaps too thoughtful / deep as answer for a day camp, but it was sincere: I was deeply scared of being carried away by obligations, responsibilities and normality. I was scared that before I knew it, I would find myself sitting comfortably, but far from what makes me vibrate.
Three and a half years later, I conquered that fear.
I proved to myself that I could say no to most the imposing evidence and say yes to what dwells in me. Even if it is considered “abnormal”, or risky. I proved that with a little bit of luck, I had the means to live my life on my own terms, at my own pace.
This is important, and it’s fun.
“I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world”
– Walt Whitman (Leaves of Grass)
But if traveling started to appease such a profound and existential fear, it has certainly created new ones.
One in particular eclipses others: the fear of losing. Fear of losing my loved ones, those who are dear to me. Those whose opinion, love and existence are important to me.
The fear that friendships might one day disconnect, and families drift away. That these precious links I take with me wherever I go, despite themselves and despite myself, run out.
Today, if I had to answer the same question again, I would have a quite a different answer to offer:
“I’m scared of becoming an irremediably alone.”