Zachary Alden Smith

Tension is Fear in Reverse

Tension is a gift.
A solution to alleviate fear.
A way that fear is put into perspective.
It is fear in the rear-view.

Tension is another word for desire.
Not just any desire.
A special kind: Love,
or Affection.

Fear is a plastic red flag flapping in my side-yard.
It marks a pipeline of hope
already underground here,
that things could be better.

Fear is a kind of suffering.
Just as love drives out fear,
hope in the midst of suffering
produces endurance.

While fear can pull me back or paralyze me,
it comes with a hidden key
unlocking a secret treasure: Hope,
the flip-side to the coin
of change I seek to make.

And that three-dimensioning transforms it
into a deposit on what I have placed my hope in:
that which I am affected by;
that which I have an affection for;
that which I love.
The state or situation or reality
I wish
I wish
I wish
to be true.
That I would love to be.
That describes the world I’d be
fortunate to live in.

So fear cannot move us.
Hope does.

Perseverance is not granted by suffering alone.
It is granted when we see hope while suffering.

And the suffering of fear is always accompanied by
the hope of what life can be like,
when the cause of,
when the reason for,
that fear is eradicated.

Fear is a clue
there is a more to be sought.

How strong is that hope?
What is the love rooted in?
If it is strong and substantial enough to
drive me out of fear and into the reality of
the change I seek to make in the world,
then you are likely to hear me describe it
near to this:
“it was a guarantee of the things I had longed for.”

If it is so weighty, I will then persevere
to find the result of promise.
Flourishing, in advance.

If on the other hand,
I cannot wrap my mind around that hope,
cannot find it in my heart,
as a coin lost in the crack of some attic floorboards...
if it is the whisper of a distant unfounded rumor,
drowned in the noise of my
eternal inner murmur of self-reproach,
in my distraction of cultural trappings, my
“what if what I have means I can’t give”...
then the fear will ring truer than the hope.
It will cry more beautifully than a risk to me.

If I’ve given the fear a voice
and a face
and a right
and an influence,
or an authority...
if I have averted my eyes,
kept my head down in compliance,
avoided seeing, understanding it,
left undiscovered its conflicted nature,
not applauded the tension it betrays...
then it will turn into something
more than a fear: Decision.

To what? The enticing decision
never to be wrong.
Never to test.
And that decision, once “made”,
will appear solidly more lovely than
the prospect to try and fail.

And therefore I stay, afraid,
because that is what I prefer.
That is who I have decided to become.

I have decided not to be well, later,
but to be right, now.
And by that, to serve myself,
not to serve others.

But hope, when decided,
becomes something, too: Faith.
The evidence of things hoped for;
the assurance of things unseen.

Fear is a liar?
That’s up to me
and you.

The greater the fear, the truer the hope.
The more palpable the tension.

Without fear, no desire to move beyond it
to what those I seek to serve
already keep an affection for.

Thank you, fear,
for your weakness;
for your incapacity as
the final chapter
of a faithful character.

That you are an inkling
there is some good to imagine,
to hold out for,
to invest in.

How to flip the coin on its head?
How to turn the table on fear?
How to make change “happen”?

If I observe, describe, acknowledge,
the desire felt instantaneously before and
under the fear? Get to know it...
ask others if they have it, too?
Could I solve a problem for you,
and I would solve one for me, too?

Fear is a blanket I use to be lazy.
With it I cover desire,
because I want to be safe
from emotional suffering.
Fear is preemptive disappointment
with an equal suffering
I feel more in charge of.
It seems safer to resign now
than get fired later.
Failure, in advance.
A gunshot to my heel
from me.

So that I can have an excuse to lay down.

Without the fear, there would be no tension.
Without the tension there’d be no hope.
Without hope, no joy.

And with joy, freedom.

See you on the flip-side.

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