Friday, August 17, 2012

Pat The Bunny

Some years ago, when I was feeling pretty anxious about stuff I can't even remember now,  I wrote this little piece about something that kind of worked for me.  I was rooting through some files today, and up popped the essay about the bunny.  I'd forgotten him.  He'd forgotten me.  No wonder I get scared sometimes....  

Here's the bunny.  May you know comfort. 

Human beings, especially so-called enlightened human beings -- and especially, especially  so-called smart human beings -- often find it quite difficult to deal with the emotional thrill ride of life.  One might assume that this problem has grown worse under the pressures and uncertainties of the so-called modern world.  I’m not so sure.  I bet it was tense in the caves from time to time. 

We’d like to think we can handle our emotions.  But wise people tell us that emotions operate pretty much on their own timetable. They come.  They go.  They come back.  And they keep doing this all your life, no matter how smart, how transformed, how determined you are. 

One of the most persistent and paralyzing emotions is fear in all its most unnerving disguises: terror/panic/anxiety/ uneasiness/nameless dread. Very hard it is when fear comes to visit. We think – being the sort of beings who put a lot of stock in our minds – that we should be able to reason ourselves out of our fears. Often we are dismayed that in spite of the application of extreme rationality, we’re still pretty scared.

I believe our emotions are part of our animal nature.  Not bad.  Not good. Just something that comes along. And something that’s not particularly reassured by intellectual pep talking. 

I think of my fear as a small rabbit that lives inside my chest. When I’m scared, it sits frozen, quivering.  Its eyes are very wide, darting wildly about, scanning for danger. Its whiskers vibrate. Its body is clenched very small because it longs to be invisible, hidden and safe.  It’s afraid to hop away.  Terrified to stay put.  It doesn’t need a cheerful talking to.  It needs to be petted and soothed.  Like a bunny. 

So, when you are afraid, the most important thing is not to brush the fear away or hide it -- even from yourself.  For then the bunny is terribly alone and hopeless. Find the frightened bunny trembling inside you, accept its fear and sorrow, and imagine that you could hold it in your hands and cradle it warm and soft against your chest.  Smooth its silky fur with great tenderness, and say, “There, there, little bunny.  There, there.” 

Just until it feels strong enough and safe enough to hop along. However long that takes. And be sure to love the bunny. Because it always does the very best it can. 

 And because it is your heart.     

“There, there, little bunny.  There, there.” 

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