..I keep death on my mind
Like a heavy crown..

Newspaper, newspaper
Can't take no more
You're here every morning
Waiting at my door
I'm just trying to kiss you
And you stab my eyes
Make me blue forever
Like an island sky
And I'm not pretending
That it's all okay
Just let me have my coffee
Before you take away the day

..I keep death at my heels
Like a basset hound..

-Conor Oberst

A few nights ago I was crafting a little crown out of paper for the little girl I nanny- it was just her and I since her twin brothers were at soccer practice. We decorated the crown with stickers and yellow paint and we talked. Out of no where, small Ashlyn with big sky blue eyes asks me, "Holly, what are you 'fraid of?" Just seconds ago we were discussing the splendor of princesses and the finer aspects of fake glittery jewels and how many "pretties" I should put in her hair. I had her repeat what she said. "What are you 'fraid of!?" she asked again. "Oh," I laughed and said, "scary things." She looked at me as if to say, "Lame answer." And so I tried to elaborate: "You know... spiders. I don't like spiders at all." "Yes," she replied, " 'piders are icky! But, what are you 'fraid of?" I was having a problem with the highest pointy part of the crown which kept flopping over because of the weight of the plastic jewels atop it. And I didn't feel like discussing the topic of fear. "Oh... I don't know darling," I think I said. And that topic was dropped and we started another about how fun it would be if Peter Pan's Wendy got to fly and fight against the storm troopers in Star Wars.

A couple nights later, I was making dinner for the kiddos of another family I nanny for. The littlest, Alyssa, with chocolate hair and eyes tugged on my shirt and announced, "I have question." "Yes, darling? Dinner is almost ready!" "No, I have question." "What, honey, what is it?" She smiled as she lisped, "What are you 'fraid of?" I stopped what I was doing and looked down at her, engulfed by a strange feeling of deja vu. "What?" is all I said and thought, where did that come from?! She repeated the question and I was tempted to say "spiders" but I didn't. "I am afraid of a lot of things." I said. "You are?" She asked in her little baby-ish voice full of surprise. Yes, I knew I was afraid of many things, and I realized that ultimately I was afraid to speak them aloud. Things uttered out loud leaves one vulnerable, as if not acknowledging them somehow makes them not really exist. "What are you afraid of?" I asked her. "Heffalumps and... witches," She said resolutely and then with a silly laugh she exclaimed, "But they're not weal!" "No dear, they are not. And you do not need to be afraid of them!" "Nope!" she said with more laughter; and in her merriment and seeming flippancy, she was completely relieved that I affirmed her hypothesis.

I wish all I feared were Heffalumps. But I am fearful of things a little greater than that. Beyond being afraid of admitting my fears: I am afraid of trying and failing, of mediocrity and pain, I am afraid of death and disaster. I am afraid of wasting my time on things that don't matter. I am afraid of never becoming who I was created and meant to be. I am afraid of not doing what I know I should do.