The F Words

If you are even thinking this is going to be about that word you are wrong, it is really about a few other F words – fear, food, faith, and freedom. There are a few lessons, which have shaped my perspective and understanding of fear. One lesson was that fear is an acronym, which stands for FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL. As I thought about it, most of the things I feared were based on evidence that did not exist or had been constructed in my head. Another lesson I learned came from sociologist Allan Johnson,[1] who wrote about how our fears are based on what we think we know, whether they are true or not. Then there is what Franklin Delano Roosevelt said during his first inaugural address, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”[2] That is not to say that we do not ever experience fear, even the most enlightened of spiritual leaders experience fear. It is not whether or not we experience it, but what we do with it.

People fear all kinds of things, one of them being food. I am the first to admit there have been many foods I was fearful to try. To be honest, I could not fully explain where that fear came from. One of those foods was grasshoppers. The idea of eating a bug, dead or alive, was frightening and there was nothing about the idea of eating a grasshopper, which made me want to try it. I cannot say that it was because I had eaten one and did not enjoy it. When I thought about eating a grasshopper, I found myself getting squeamish for no reason at all. I am not sure where I learned to have this fear of eating bugs, but I had. I had seen people on National Geographic specials harvesting and eating various insects and somehow I had come to a space that it was okay for them, but not for me

Then the unimaginable happened, I moved through my fear. I needed some assistance from friends, but it happened. One semester, when I was in college, a friend of mine made me some homemade mint “chocolate chip” ice cream. As you may have imagined, those little chocolate chips, were actually chocolate-coated grasshoppers. Of course he did not tell me this until I was done and told him I loved the crunchy chocolate candies he had put in the ice cream. I have never gone out and purchased some on my own, or even sought out where you could buy dead grasshoppers. However, I have tried other things, which were at one time on my fear of eating list – ham, bacon, sausage, a wide diversity of seafood, tofu, tempeh, and the list goes on. As I pushed through my fears of what I thought I knew about each of these items, I realized how little I really knew about any of these items and how my fear had limited my understanding of the world.

Growing up in a Jewish household, there was a limited diet of “spiritual food”, to which we were exposed. Mostly, we grew up on a diet of the New Testament. Over time, I have been exposed to sources of spiritual nourishment, which have come from a vast array of spiritual cuisines, such as Native American, Buddhist, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, New Age, Toltec, and Metaphysical. While as a child, I had been made aware of other faith traditions, I had been provided with limited exposure or understanding of them. As with my grasshoppers, when I moved through my fears I found myself exposed to a wealth of spiritual wisdom from ancient to modern times.

One of the things I have come to realize is that I have nothing to fear, but fear itself. The day I asked myself what was the worst thing that could happen to me if I allowed myself to move through my fears, was the day I began to fly spiritually. I came to realize that if I ate something, food or faith, which did not agree with my palette, I did not have to finish it. However, I would never know whether it resonated with me if I did not try.

What are you afraid of, if anything? Acknowledge it, release it, and enjoy the blessings, which will come as you allow yourself to soar with greater freedom.


[1] Allan G. Johnson, Privilege, Power, and Difference, (McGraw Hill: New York, 2006), 13.

[2] History Matters