Fear plays an important role. It's omnipresent. It's next to the backbone of my trip.
Many women whom I meet tell me: "I would like to do what you do, but I can't. I'm afraid."
I understand. I'm afraid, too.
I am scared of foreign cultures, people, animals, noise, loneliness, cars, poverty, sadness, dependency, darkness, spiders, dark waters. These are probably not all. Some of the fears I know well. They have been with me for years. They come again and again. Fears have a habit of coming back after I face and stare them down. Some of them I've encountered often, so my reaction to them is routine, and from the outside, nobody would know I'm afraid. I have already learned that most likely nothing is to be feared. I'm afraid, anyway.
On many nights, I lie in my tent, and my heart beats so loud that I am sure the imagined wolf has already heard it. My heart jumps from my throat with every beat, my breath flattens, my body stiffens and my eyes open wide. It's the behaviour of prey. Every night I spent in the tent, I listen carefully to the sounds I hear in my surroundings. Once, when I had put the tent up poorly, it seemed like a horde of Indians danced in circles. I was rigid with fear and at the same time amused by my absurdity. I knew that there were no Indians in Georgia, but still, my heart wouldn't slow down. After some hesitation, I took my camera (always the weapon of my choice), put my head out of the tent and walked around it. I decided to shoot a few pictures of the spectacular sky so that I had not crawled out of my warm bed for nothing. After that, I was finally able to fall asleep. Another night, I was taken into a pack of stray dogs. I didn't mind them. They were friendly and protective. At night, however, the sound of the dog's licking their balls irritated me. I was convinced they could turn on me at every moment. I can tell you about countless moments like this. But every story ends with the same realisation.
FEAR IS MOSTLY IN OUR MINDS. IF IT WERE REAL, WE WOULD CALL IT A PROBLEM.
My journey is not about ignoring fears. I want to understand where my fear comes from and then look into its eyes. For example, I'm afraid of every foreign culture. I don't know why, I guess the terrorism and foreigners-are-evil narratives are so deeply ingrained in my mind, that it has taken over the default narrative. That is why I often remain motionless in one country before I cross another border. During this time, I don't do sightseeing. I usually stay in the four walls that are available to me and arrange my documents. I work on my pictures, skype with my family or write about the experience. I gather my thoughts, let my mind wander and sleep. This is the space I must give my fear. If I ignore it, my fears combine forces with all the other fears and anxieties. And against all of them together, I am powerless.
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Write a comment
Janet Givens (Thursday, 28 September 2017 13:19)
This heartfelt post reminds me of an old adage I love, "Courage is feeling the fear and doing it anyway." You are most courageous. What a gift that will be and is in your life. Kudos to you, Isabelle.
Isabelle (Friday, 29 September 2017 09:15)
Thank you, Janet! I feel blessed to have the opportunity to discover that within myself.