I watched Will Smith on YouTube the other day - he was talking about fear. Will does a great job with motivational talks but this one was a 'doozey!' As well as having a liberating effect - I won’t give away the full talk (you can watch it below) - it made me think about those times when something new, strange or challenging enters our lives, then most of us have “fear” as a default setting as our response .
The Doctor part of me know that when we are born out brain is about a third of it’s final size and it takes about twenty years to reach ‘full capacity.’ As the brain grows it adds billions of new neurons which send out their multiple connections to other brains cells, thus creating new memories/ideas/reflexes. But way back when a baby is born I would hazard a guess that the biggest emotion that floods it’s pristine brain is WONDER.
And you know what? The memories of that sense of wonder are recorded in the recesses of our minds, and, should you wish to access that emotion, then it is still possible to recall that incredible sense of wonder.
BUT .... the problem is that from that first glorious vision of the world, we are trained to fear so much of it.
Even the best of parents cannot resist the urge to keep their infants safe by warning them of the hidden dangers in the world and as they grow the list is added to on a daily basis. I remember being warned not to touch hedgehogs because they carry fleas: spiders of any sort were deadly dangerous - even daddy longlegs: and swans could break your arm with one swoop of their neck! By the age of three my world was starting to get seriously scary! Then there were other dangers: don’t go outside or you’d catch your death of cold, in fact don’t even go outside at all with wet hair or you’ll get sick: don’t talk to strangers, don’t swim in that pond because it doesn’t have a bottom or you’ll drown and whatever you do never ever look at the sun (which was the only sensible advice amongst it all.)
When it comes to all those deadly animals/reptiles and insects, we forget that we share a planet with them where they too live out their lives in their own unique way. The reality is that 99% of them are far more scared of us humans because we are FAR more dangerous than they are.
Thankfully, I’ve come to see hedgehogs as the cutest of creatures. I’ve totally changed my mind about snakes after I watched a King Brown snake - one of the more deadly ones in the world - slide across a path in front of me and head into some grass on the other side. I became fascinated by it as it nudged it’s way through the grass stopping from time to time to gently nuzzle some of the thicker stalks that stood in its way. Spiders are creative geniuses. They make webs which are some of the most beautiful wonders to behold. On a cold damp morning their finely crafted webs, be-decked with dewy jewelry, fairly sparkle in the dawn light.
I don’t advocate barging into the wilds and picking up the fauna to see how wonderful it it, but I’ve come to see the world as someone else’s house, one where you enter with respect for both the ‘owner’ and their environment.
As Will said, on the other side of fear is something truly amazing. We need to re-gather those times of infant innocence and see the world as it really is - full of wonder.