A life of fear and ignorance
By EDMUND LIS
As some of you have noticed and commented to me, I haven’t written anything in awhile. One of the excuses I’ve used for not writing is my fear that I may say something that could embarrass my employers.
I am fairly open about my life when I’m writing, and unfortunately I’m not in a financial position to not care about staying employed. Thinking about that fear, and fear in general, has helped me realize and acknowledge how much of a motivating, or rather un-motivating factor, it’s been in my life.
“My name is Edmund and I’m a Scaredy-Cat.”
Is there a 12-Step program for that? Seriously, as far back as I can remember, I’ve always been afraid of getting “hurt.” I’m talking both physical but primarily emotional pain.
On the physical side, I can honestly say that at 56 years old, I have never, ever, been in a fight. I have always avoided physical confrontation by any means necessary, including flight, deception or, if need be, submission. I’m not proud of that record and I’ve always wished that I could fight back, but that’s my point — fear has always dominated my actions.
So where does that fear come from? Is there a gene that controls the basic instincts of Fight vs. Flight? Or is it early life experiences?
Now for the “ignorance” part of the title. This may get a little confusing, so try and follow me. My fear comes from lack of ignorance. Huh? Yes, that’s right. When I am ignorant of the consequences, I’m not afraid of the action. Let me give you a few examples.
When I was around 5 years old and living in Argentina, there was a tall armoire in my bedroom. There were also bunk beds with a removable railing. That railing looked like a ladder, so I decided to use it to climb up the armoire. I leaned it upright and started to fearlessly climb up. Unfortunately, it slid out from under me and I crashed to the floor, breaking my arm. I don’t know if it’s a direct result of that, but I’m now afraid and very uncomfortable climbing up ladders.
As an adult, I got fired from a good paying job because I was ignorant of the possibility that not showing up to receive a commemorative watch could get me fired. If I had even the smallest inkling, I would have taken the friggin watch.
Shortly after that, I was offered an opportunity to buy a restaurant and being ignorant of how much work it would be for so little return, I jumped on it. Even here in Winters, when I decided to invest my inheritance in Steady Eddy’s it was out of ignorance because I didn’t do enough homework and I let myself get talked into making it a bigger space than I originally wanted.
I’ve told those stories before, and everyone thinks I was brave or courageous to stand up to my boss or start my own business. But the reality is that I was fearless because I was ignorant.
As for emotional fear, I can’t give you direct “cause & affect” examples like with the physical, but let’s just say it’s probably my father’s fault. Remember me being in Argentina as a kid? Well, that was because after moving to the States and having five children, my dad decided that we were cramping his style and sent my mom and us packing to Argentina. Then he felt guilty, and back we came. Without going into all the details, let’s just say life with my father was an emotional rollercoaster.
Of all my fears, I think the fear of rejection has been the most debilitating. Through all of high school I only went on one date and that one was because she kind of asked me out. Even with my wife Diane, it took me months to get up the courage to ask her out. And that was after the years I’d been in door to door sales, which were filled with rejection, but of a different kind.
One of the main problems of the inaction caused by fear is the years or even lifetime of regret and wondering “what if”? Of course you can’t fix or relive the past all you can do is live life for today and keep moving forward. For me, even with all my fears, I still head into the unknown future because as I’m too fond of saying, “Ignorance is Lis”.
Postscript: Shortly after I started writing this column, my boss gave me a little book to read about “fear of change” called “Who Moved my Cheese?” by Dr. Spencer Johnson. It’s a fun read and oh so apropos.
(For archives of Edmund’s columns visit www.whatsthepoint-