Scared New World: Why Are We All Afraid?

One of my favourite Shakespeare plays, actually one of my favourite plays period, is The Tempest.

I love it. Everything about it. There’s magic, mystery, drama, intensity, humour — the whole nine yards.

About 15 years ago (Christ I’m getting old) I had the opportunity to see a production in the West End of London by acclaimed director Trevor Nunn.

They were tearing down the Almeida Theatre to upgrade the space. When Trevor Nunn stepped in and shut down the whole works of it.

In the wreckage he saw possibility.

What followed was one of the most beautiful and moving pieces of art I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

Staying in Old Harlow at the time, which is about 45 minutes outside of London by train. I would make a b-line for the platform every day after class and be standing in line outside the Almeida by 4pm at the latest waiting for returns (returns are tickets that aren’t being used because people didn’t show up), as the run was otherwise old out.

Finally, after four days, and a total of 16 hours of waiting on my feet, I got my ticket.

I sat in the very front row, right in the centre. It was beautiful. Every second of it.

As I sat there in the wreckage I was struck by one line in particular. It came from Caliban, a slave to Prospero, and is often described as a “beast”, part fish and part man.

In a moment of extreme silence, the beast raises his head and speaks:

 

“Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,

Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.”

 

So much of my life has been saturated by fear. And I’ve spoken a lot about it on this blog.

And the more people I speak to about it, the more I realize that we’re all afraid. Terrified of being either found out, or lonely, or laughed at, or just ignored.

So my question is, if everyone feels like this, then why?

We aren’t alone. We’re not floating in the ether. We are together. And not in any fucking kumbaya kinda way. I mean we’re literally together on this planet.

I’ve met all kinds of people in my travels — rich, poor, famous, academic, street smart, and every damn thing in between. And I honestly cannot tell the difference between any of them at their core.

Sure, some dress nicer, some swear more, some use fancier language, and some don’t say a solitary word. But they all share one thing in common.

They just don’t fucking know.

None of us do.

And that’s why we’re all afraid. The silence between us all. The stillness. That’s where the fear of everything lives and thrives. None of us know what the other is thinking. We just know the surface, and that’s just not enough. We base our assumptions of one another on the exterior, to make up for our fear not knowing.

Which is why we need to support each other.

Which is hard. I’m not perfect at it. Not, in the least. But, I do try. And sometimes, sadly, I fail. But at least I try.

I would not be where I am today (bearing in mind, I still have a ways to go), but I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for people who said “fuck the silence” I want to know you. The inner you. Past the beard, and the denim, and the hoodie, and the forehead sweat.

I want to see in.

And it’s those people. Those fearless few that make the world a better place to live in.

For me they include a litany of family, friends, co-workers, and former loves.

And I am so god damn grateful for each and every one of you. I may not say it, I may not write it, but I am.

We need to look inside more. And not get carried away by silence.

We need not to be afeard.

For in the wreckage, there is possibility.

And in that possibility, there is hope.

________________________________________________________

This past week I had the proudest moment I’ve ever had in my life. I ignored silence, and looked inside myself. I’m so lucky to have or have had you all in my life.

Warning: the following is in no way deep or existential.

It’s just fucking ridiculous.

Big thanks to Mike O’Neil and the rest of the crowd at The Energy Company. You’re all rockstars. Every one of you. I’m fortunate to be a part of your gym. It’s a special place.

My previous personal best on a deadlift was 305 pounds.

One week passed, I lifted 385lbs in the end.

Fear nothing. And there’s nothing to be afraid of.

Thank you for reading, and enjoy the show.

(Also, if anyone wants to give Mike and I a reality show, we’re totally down with it. Just sayin’.)

 

7 thoughts on “Scared New World: Why Are We All Afraid?

  1. Hi Dave, it’s just this week I called myself a scaredy cat in yoga. I’ve been in yoga for maybe five years or so and still cannot do crow; I can barely balance on one foot, barely, so I cannot stand on my head or on my hands. I almost stood on my head this week but as soon as the move began I screamed and jumped to my feet. I said to my instructor, I’m such a scaredy cat. It struck me; stuck with me all day. I’m a scaredy cat. It’s why I was not good at softball as a kid, scared of the ball. I too look at my life and think if I wasn’t a scaredy cat, what might I be doing. It’s a different road, the brave road. I’m 58 and still workin’ on it. Thanks Dave. I hope I am included in the friends you speak of. Much love. Thanks for your blog. I love it. And yes it’s true, we all identify in some way, whatever our fear or struggle is.

  2. Hi Dave — I’m a writer at the Atlantic working on a project about bullying, depression, and redemption. I read a bunch of your posts, and I think you might have a story that fits perfectly with what I’m working on. If you might be interested in speaking, could you please email me? Olga at theatlantic.com
    Thanks,
    Olga

  3. Hi — Sorry just trying this again because I didn’t see if it posted. I’m a writer working on a story about people who overcame bullying. I was wondering if you’d be willing to be interviewed? Olga at theatlantic.com is my email. Thanks!

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