I am reading a memoir right now with that all-too-familiar blurb on the front: “Fearless” the blurber cries. I didn’t notice this until after I had taken the book home, begun it, and learned a little bit about what was inside. And I can tell you that if the book was truly fearless, I would have zero interest in it.
Maybe this makes me un-evolved, but I actually don’t want to read something without fear in it. My reasoning for this is simple. Though I can’t watch horror movies, I am a person with fear in my life. I’m up against some brand of fear every day… every hour, some days. Some nights fear sleeps next to me in bed, asking me to make out in the middle of the night. I try to say no because I need my sleep, and also because fear has bad breath.
I am often polarized against fear. It is me versus fear in my mind and in my most private moments. Fear is sometimes public, but for me it is mostly private. I don’t talk about it very often. And this is probably why I want to see fear and hear fear and feel fear between the covers of any book. I need it to be known. I also need to see and hear and feel the moments when the writer transcends fear, those moments that are so magnificent I haven’t yet found them durable words.
Of course I know what the blurber meant with his kind endorsement on the memoir’s front cover. He meant that in here is a writer who is fearless in her exploration things, including fear. Here is someone who is afraid and who chooses, in specific sentences, to release her fear. And she does. It is a memoir about addiction and recovery and the gaping holes we all face, and it’s very very good and honest and true because it is fearful and horribly small in places as well as sometimes big and transcendent.
The writer is willing to walk with the fear. To be big enough to hold the fear in the middle of the night when it is breathing heavily on her. She doesn’t give it any tongue, but she does hold it so tenderly even as she is breaking up with it that the fear becomes a kind of metaphor. It’s a metaphor for all we have denied ourselves in our lives. All those times we’ve begged to stay small and victims of fear’s thin allure.
No more Stockholm syndrome, our intrepid writer seems to say between the lines. Give me my fear and my life and my breakthroughs, and in this I will find my way.