Friday, September 19, 2008
The Game of Prediction
Here's my man Flan as a week old baby. He's four now and a master at teaching bravery. Today he reminded me that the only way to be brave is to feel fear. Courage comes from dealing with your fear in a focused and direct fashion. He is always so honest about showing me his fear, how big it is and how it makes him want to run. As a baby, he used to run away at the slightest scary moment. Now he and I play a game called "Prediction". Rather than walking the trails expecting bad things around every tree trunk, he and I predict that there might be something scary here but not over there. What used to be a walk full of anxiety on both our parts has become a really fun exploration. Will the dog jump out of the bush there or a few yards down? When it happens as we predicted, we both feel pleased. If not, then we feel maybe a little let down but all the more eager to predict the next scary moment. The stronger the fear, the greater his curiosity seems to be. If something is truly scary we are both prepared for it and so aren't taken by surprise which is truly an awful thing. Maybe that's why horror movies can be such a thrill. You can predict that the monster will be hiding behind that door and even though you jump when they grab their intended victim, there is a feeling of confidence in your own judgment.
Flanagan has taught me to trust my fear, to listen to his and to learn to react appropriately to the level of fear either one of us is experiencing. He's taught me that whenever someone gets pushed past their fear threshold, they will react with anger and violence if necessary. When that happens, a sorrowful apology and an empathetic understanding seems to heal the loss of trust. Then it becomes really important for us both to be aware that our fear threshold will be a little lower because of the breech. Basically, we can go back to predicting that we will be a little scared of each other and that we both might need to go a little slower.
Because he shows me his fear and understands mine, it is all the easier to get back to feeling the love and fun.