When visiting the Toronto aquarium recently I was taught an amazing lesson about fear. I was shown an alternative perspective of it’s very nature and understood why it is simply not worth giving fear a voice when facing one of life’s plethora of potentially dumbfounding decisions. Admittedly, careful consideration is certainly advisable at all times however fear, in it’s purest form as the absence of love, adds nothing positive or even neutral but instead merely detracts and destroys. My experience taught me that it is indeed better to potentially die sooner having lived a fearless, adventure filled and free existence, as opposed to end life later safely ensconced in a tedious comfort zone defined only by an anxiety surrounding the unknown.
Whilst exploring one of the larger tanks at the Toronto aquarium, on a child-infested Saturday, I happened upon the most incredible site. A baby (pictured above) was intently peering at the sharks, ignoring all of the other citizens of the tank, and every time a shark swam near it reaching out as if to pet it, whilst giggling uncontrollably. This sight was to the amusement of all the surrounding aquarium visitors who, united by a learnt intrinsic fear for these creatures, thought it humorous that the baby was so uneducatedly fearless.
I’m not arguing that we all shouldn’t be somewhat tentative when in the presence of sharks, especially if in open water, but instead merely commenting on the nature of fear itself. As the child is yet to learn the fear associated with sharks it simply attempts to connect on a baser level with the sharp toothed sea beast. As a pure and innocent child, it is constantly filled with a joy born from an affinity with the simpler wonders of the universe, it loves unconditionally, something that adults, who are regularly subjected to fear, struggle to do. This very struggle to love creates a fertile breeding ground for bad decision making.
The experience was a poignant portrayal of the trappings of adult life, a life where we can all too easily lose our childlike sense of wonder and become unable to see the magic found in all that surrounds us. Approaching day to day life with the unblemished mindset of a child, when faced with truly adult dilemmas, is by no means simple. It is however worth considering the deep benefits found through realigning our fearful perspective and moulding a mindset that opens more readily to the beauty of our mere existence.
Soon after I came to the simplest of full circles. Below is the sight that stole my breathe. I instantly switched from prey to predator as I peered, with ever growing paternal instincts washing over me, at the small embryonic baby shark in its egg. Fear was in this moment fully subverted.
Fear is not real, it is simply an absence of love. It is quite simply what you allow it to be.
(Photo – Eli Woodbine 2015 Toronto)