Fictional stories have dazzled humankind since the beginning of times because they reveal secrets hidden in our subconscious mind. Even though they affect the way we are, it often takes long for them to be decoded. It is there, in our subconscious, a wild area of the brain, that the shadows act and ultimately change our lives. Through imaginary adventures narrated in books or screens, the hero faces dangerous villains, comes upon unexpected hardships, has to overcome limits, learns from losses and frustration so that, at the end, he finds the most precious treasure: himself.
Ultimately, fictional stories tell the story of each one of us, but presented in a different outfit, another scenario, unusual makeup. We need a hero to identify the indispensable courage to face our demons and allow the best we have within to blossom. The keeper of the bridge we all must cross is fear.
Fear is the origin of all shadows. Jealousy comes from the fear we have the loved one will walk out on us; envy, from the fear the life of others is nicer than ours; anger is nothing more than the fear to look in the mirror and face who we really are; resentment arises when our fear tries to defend us from our own shortcomings; victimization comes from the fear of taking the challenges intrinsic to evolution; escape from reality is the fear to face the truth. The list is long, as fear is always lurking, trying to prevent us from walking the fantastic and endless Light Road.
“The fiercest battles are fought within ourselves”, used to say, time and again, the old monk of the monastery up the hill. Ignoring the cell makes it even worse. The heroes are considered as such because they dared confront their own shadows, those that we fear the most or pretend they don’t exist. “There can only be courage where once there was fear”, he warned.
Fear comes from the animal instinct of survival, and it can be useful as a warning of a danger at hand. Nothing more. Otherwise, the fear will become a shadow that dominates and makes us prisoners in the dark dungeon of dense feelings and obscure thoughts.
In the prison of fear, that has no bars, we tend to deny our condition as prisoners because we do not see what is limiting or paralyzing us, or taking us out of the way. More than sex, power or money, it is fear that moves part of the world. But to the wrong side.
All that life demands from us is courage. Courage to go deep inside you, to know yourself entirely, and to transform yourself. To leave behind old ideas and attitudes, and to invent a new way of being. Courage to accept and embrace the Path after a glimpse. And then, courage to cross the Path. In this lies the braveness of facing the fear hidden in the dark labyrinths of the soul with the lamps of love and wisdom. Yes, our shadows are the major opponents to be confronted, understood and transformed.
Each lightened shadow is as if the hero – and bear in mind, each one is the hero of one’s own story – had acquired a new sword or magic and become stronger to continue on the quest to save the beautiful and beloved princess. This means cutting the stone of existence until the diamond of the soul is revealed. Sheer light. This is what stories are good for; this is what stories want to tell us about.
Note that there are some paths in life we are comfortable to cross, without any fear. Situations that would previously worry us have been overcome, and we can move on without being scared or tense. They no longer are obstacles. This means we were brave enough to confront some of our fears. They are ancestral, social or cultural hardships and traumas that prevent us from saying “yes” when we believe that is the right thing to do; from saying “no” and doing something that negatively affects us; for freely choosing who we want to be and what path we want to take (even though other people, still haunted by fear or prejudice, tell us we are wrong or that we should move back). In short, of experiencing the core of our essence. From the fear of the dark in our childhood bedroom to not confronting a boss whom we disagree with at the workplace for fear of losing the job; or setting the necessary behavior lines to have a peaceful environment at home for fear of family conflicts.
Thus, little by little, we will be able to refine the perception, freely make our choices and unveil the beauty within each one of us, in the precise measure we confront our fears and transform ourselves. “Each one of these moments means a battle you have won. Then, you smile, silently, as if in a prayer; you have acquired a new gift. The fears are rites of passage or thresholds. Once you pass through them, they hone and strengthen the traveler in the grand passage of life. The courage of the hero lies in everyone’s soul. Use it”, taught the old monk.
Kindly translated by Carlos André Oighenstein.