What Were You Taught To Fear?

I find snakes and lizards of all kinds and sizes fascinating and, for the most part, beautiful. My daughter-in-law is afraid of snakes. There is a reptile house at our local zoo and I have wanted to take my granddaughter in to see everything. Her sweet mother doesn’t even want to walk by it. Yesterday was my opportunity because my son and I took Hannah to the zoo by ourselves. I was very excited and my daughter-in-law was relieved that she didn’t have to be with us at the reptile house!

Hannah ran from window to window and it took some effort to get her to slow down so I could be sure she was actually seeing the snakes and lizards. She just turned two a few months ago so she had no idea what to look for. One of the small snakes was the color of lime sherbet; it almost looked like it would glow in the dark. She was fascinated. I think her favorites were the large lizards. At one window she said, “Gama your lizard (the one on my fence) is small and this lizard is very big!” What a joy to introduce this sweet being to creatures many people avoid because they are so frightened.

That experience was the highlight of my day. It was a special day at the zoo: field trips from at least 4 different schools. The reptile house was filled with shining faces and small hands pressed against glass to see white, yellow, green, brown, and black snakes. Squeals of excitement rang out as wide eyes came upon Gilda monsters. No fear; only openness to things they had only seen pictures or drawings of before that moment. I am grateful that these children have been given the opportunity to appreciate another living being rather than fear it because someone else does. I am grateful to my daughter-in-law for consciously choosing not to pass her fear on to her daughter.

I am grateful to my parents who taught me to respect that some snakes are poisonous and for taking the time to be sure I knew the difference. When I was little, we were stationed in New Mexico so the knowledge was important. I am grateful to the parents of a classmate in 4th grade whose parents let him have a pet snake. He brought it to school and we all were allowed to hold it, pet it, learn from it and him. I always smile because he carried it in a pillowcase that he could hang from his head and still ride his bike to school!

Life has taught me to fear some things and even some people. I continue to heal those parts of myself that hold unreasonable fear. Fear can be my friend and teacher at times because it alerts to me potential danger so that I can make wise choices. It has taken some practice to learn when to welcome Teacher Fear and when to release and heal fear that hampers my life flow and my ability to embrace life fully. Perhaps another day I will delve more into that process. Today it is enough to recognize that many of our fears are based on how we have been taught to perceive what we are experiencing rather than the truth of who we are and what is happening.

Aum shanti.

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