Today is May 6 and the Navigate the Chaos question of the day to consider is “how often do you confront fear?” The 2001 novel Life of Pi, by Yann Martel, tells the story of protagonist Piscine Molitor "Pi" Patel, an Indian Tamil boy from Pondicherry who explores issues of spirituality and metaphysics from an early age. He survives 227 days after a shipwreck while stranded on a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger which raises questions about the nature of reality and how it is perceived and told. On confronting fear Martel wrote:
“I must say a word about fear. It is life's only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unnerving ease. It begins in your mind, always ... so you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don't, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.”
Author Judy Blume and civil rights activist Rosa Parks know a few things about confronting fear.
Best-selling author Judy Blume confronted the fear involved with writing young adult novels about topics some consider taboo such as masturbation, menstruation, birth control, and death. She has had to deal with criticism from individuals and groups that would like to see her books banned.
The American Library Association (ALA) has named Blume as one of the most frequently challenged authors of the 21st century. Despite her critics, Blume's books have sold over 82 million copies and they have been translated into 32 languages. On a personal level Blume has also confronted fear.
On August 15, 1959, in the summer of her freshman year of college, she married John M. Blume, who she had met while a student at New York University. He became a lawyer, while she was a homemaker before supporting her family by teaching and writing. They had two children, but the couple divorced in 1976 with Blume later describing the marriage as "suffocating."
Shortly after her separation, she met Thomas A. Kitchens, a physicist. The couple married and moved to New Mexico for Kitchens' work. They divorced in 1978. She later spoke about their split: "It was a disaster, a total disaster. After a couple years, I got out. I cried every day. Anyone who thinks my life is cupcakes is all wrong."
As Blume wrote “Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.”
Like Blume, civil rights activist Rosa Parks understood fear. She decided to always fight against unfair laws and practices. Even though she was scared to take on such an extensive oppressive system, Parks believe it was essential to do so. Parks was involved with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and worked passionately towards its mission for equality. She was serving as secretary of the NAACP on December 1, 1955 when she refused to give up her seat on the Montgomery bus. Parks believed fighting for justice would lessen her fear and as she explained “I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”
Blume and Parks both confronted their fears in order to navigate the chaos of their lives. How often do you confront your fears?