I have a passage I have tried to memorize known as the Litany Against Fear. It is from Frank Herbert’s sci-fi epic Dune. It is a mantra repeated by a group of very wise sisterhood in the book called the Bene Gesserit.
It reminds me of how many different aspects of our lives might be governed by our fears. Our careers, family, friendships, community, our dreams, desires and distractions. And it reminds me not to let fear overcome my thoughts.
It goes like this:
“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.”
In Dune, for the people of the desert known as the Fremen they had two great fears. One was the Coriolis storm, a sandstorm of such strength that there were stories it would kill a man and leave nothing but bones behind. The other great fear was the great Worm or Maker, giant sand-worms that burrowed through the desert and were attracted to the sounds of machinery or human activity. They too would destroy anything in their path and leave nothing behind. These were the fears they faced.
Our real fears are a trifle less fantastic, but no less significant and can metaphorically consume us if we allow them. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of difference, fear of letting your guard down, these are all very natural and common fears we face every day. My hope is that we each find courage whether in a mantra, a litany, faith, or other means to face our fears and overcome them, and can witness our own potential.
The only other thing I can say about overcoming fear is that it is easier if you can share it with others. Bringing your fears into the light of a shared kindness and understanding makes them shrivel like raisins in the sun.
Personal note: I say this to myself as I run.