Red Leigh Cooper

Red Leigh Cooper

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fear is the Mindkiller

    For alot of my friends, Fear is the Mindkiller is an awesome EP by the band Fear Factory, of which I am a huge fan, but the phrase actually comes from elsewhere...

    This phrase comes from the book Dune by Frank Herbert. It's part of the litany against fear which is an incantation used by the Bene Gesserit throughout the Dune series to focus their minds and calm themselves in times of peril. The litany is as follows:
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
     The litany is taught to Paul, Bene Gesserit Lady Jessica's son, who recites it when faced with a test of his ability to deal with immense pain.

     I didn't read the book, but I did watch the movie.  I'm a big David Lynch fan.  However, the litany is shorter in the movie.  While I wonder what it will be like in the remake, I am sad there will be a remake...and if anyone ever touches a John Hughes film I will loose it...but I digress...

     Since I have been taking the "donkey" during the Lenten season (You can take the donkey, or you can take the tram... - February 21, 2012), I have been able to slow down and clearly identify all the little things that may stand in my way of getting to the "rim."   The funny thing about that is my husband, Eric, and I actually had a conversation about Santorini, Greece after that blog. "You know, we could never go to Santorini, Greece...," he said. "What?"  "Well, besides the fact that you are afraid of flying over water, we couldn't take the tram to the top because of your fear of heights."  So in order to stop him right there, and take the focus a little off of my shortcomings I interjected, "...And we couldn't spend 8 hours on the back of a donkey because of both of our backs..."

     Okay, seriously, anyone ever see the movie Airport '77?  They crash in the water, people! Okay this movie came out in 1977 when I was what...9 year old...maybe not the best parenting to let me see this Mom and Dad, but it sure has stayed with me all these years.  Of course if you remember I was also allowed to see see Jaws when I was young and that killed my marine biology career (You have to do math before you do algebra - June 12, 2011).  I think the initial fear of heights came from being made to ride Space Mountain at Disney World when I was, once again, way too young to do so.  I mean c'mon, my first roller coaster ride...then halfway in the dark?  What did you think might happen?  Then there was the time in college I got stuck in an elevator at the top of a seventeen story building with no way out until it finally started descending minutes (which seemed like hours) later.  Oh! Have I mentioned I got stuck in a work elevator two more times after that incident?  This is probably why I'm claustrophobic as well as afraid of heights...

     So, maybe these seem like irrational fears.  I mean the odds of being killed on an airline flight are 1 in 29.4 million.  The odds of getting stuck in an elevator are once in a person's lifetime based on pretty regular elevator use, and well, I'm over my quota!  In addition, the odds of dying on a roller coaster are 1 in 300 million.  While we're at it, the odds of being involved in a shark attack in America are 1 in 10,000,000.

     ....The odds of Jaws showing up in my swimming pool are 0...

     So what the heck?  Aside from the elevator thing, since I'm well over my quota as we assessed, why am I consumed by irrational fears?  For that we have to examine the very elemental properties of fear.

   I learned in dog training that a puppy has to be socialized to seven different kinds of people, places, textures, etc., and make sure they have a good experience doing so.  Why?  Because fear is an innate mechanism designed to help protect them from predators.  It's a survival instinct of sorts.   So, if your puppy grows up never seeing a person in a hat, or if during it's socialization period a person in a hat jumps out at them to scare them, the puppy will have a pretty strong reaction to people in hats and either try to get away or attack essentially.

   So would you probably.  All people have an instinctual reaction to things they think that can possibly hurt them.  People develop their specific fears through exposures, or lack thereof, as well.  Fear in humans often times develops due to a traumatic event... going on a roller coaster in the dark...

   The problem I'm having is not a burning desire to go to Santorini, Greece, no matter how beautiful it is.  I don't really feel like I'm missing out by not riding roller coasters.  The elevator thing, well, it can get in the way, but there are normally stairs if I'm too freaked out.  In fact, I think it's perfectly rational, since I am miss-stuck-in-an-elevator-more-times-than-she-should-be-in-a-lifetime, that I have a little anxiety about elevators.  However, I am noticing other fears that may be hampering or could conceivable diminish my ability to grab the "starfish."  So, I'm going to work them out here, like I do with most things.  Publicly....

    ...and I am going to have to find alot more statistics... 
     Did I mention someone got stuck in the elevator today at work?  So say it with me, "I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer.  Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.  I will face my fear...."

     Now if someone will just remove Jaws from the swimming pool...

Happy Fishing!


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I Am the Bulldog

     There is this Kid Rock song called "I Am the Bullgod."  My husband, Eric, and I like to make a habit, if we can, of twisting song lyrics as if we were amateur Weird Al Yankovics.  So, frequently this song comes out as "I Am the Bulldog" complete with a new set of lyrics detailing a day in the life of our furry four-legged friends.

     My favorite breed of dog is the Australian Cattle Dog.  They are loyal, intelligent, focused, independent, and sturdy dogs.  The breed actually, speaking of bulldogs, are a mix of bully breeds, like Bull Terriers, plus Dalmatian and Dingo or Kelpie.

    I am the bulldog...

     This is Dali.  She is actually an Australian Cattle Dog/Border Collie mix, but trust me, she got nearly all ACD!  Look at that scary intensity...and sometimes that scary intensity goes horribly, horribly wrong.  A combo of bad socialization and physical abuse before we took Dali into our home leads her to inappropriately focus all of that Cattle Dog intensity...not that she could understand or be held accountable this...she's a dog.  They honestly don't have the greatest of cognitive abilities.  Aside from any innate behavior, they only know what the world around them has shown them.  Dali, until she came to live with us, was undeniably not shown great things by the world.

     It's been my job over the last 12 years of her life to manager her in such a way as to help her make better decisions.  Most times the issues we have with Dali is when she fixates on something that irritates her. The extreme tunnel vision she exhibits is incredible. There is no calling her off it; whatever it is, she is going to worry it to death, one way or another.  She just can't let it go.
     ...A combo of bad socialization and physical abuse...sounds like my personal rearing actually.  Eric makes comments all the time when Dali does something particularly "quirky" how much she is like "her mama."  While I've been known to shoot Eric a dirty look for these type of comments, but unfortunately he's right.

      I've had problems with my back again lately.  I know that my recovery will be a long process in my head, but often times, my heart just doesn't know that.  I don't feel or look as physically weak as I am, so when set-backs arise as an ever-present reminder, I get deeply, deeply disappointed.  A feeling of such great hopelessness becomes created and all I can think about is, "I've done all I can.  Every option has been exhausted.  I can't believe this is how it's going to be..."  I just keep articulating how disappointed I am over and over again. I just can't let it go.  I seem to have the same tunnel vision that my dog gets when something upsets her...until someone "manages" me.

     In this case, the "managing" came in the form of friends present during a "I'm disappointed" lament who were able to remind me of the physical ailments they have overcome that they weren't always sure would be resolved.  The ailments that took trying different things until something clicked.  The ailments to where there is no other option just wasn't an option...

     I try not to be that person at work.  You know the one.  The one that complains about a situation, but voices no idea on how to change it.  They just want to complain.  I'm not sure why that hasn't crossed over more into my private life.  It's not that I am actually complaining alot, but I'm not exactly looking for other avenues either.  Maybe the pain makes it hard for me to see that there could be another way of dealing with the problem...maybe I understand my dog more than I thought I did...

     Dali is getting better with age.  She's not as "angry" anymore, but she still needs managing from time to time.  I guess I am and do, too.  If I'm going to swim out into that ocean and grab the starfish,  I'm going to have learn to go out into open waters where the possibilities are endless.  I may need someone monitoring the oxygen tank, but I am hoping to eventually be a skilled enough diver to navigate.

     I am definitely the bulldog...I am loyal, intelligent, focused, independent, and...sturdy...and I think I'll focus on starting a Pilates work out today...

Happy fishing!


Thursday, March 1, 2012


     I was an an English major in college...

     ....I am coming to the realization that I have awful reading comprehension.  Not easy for one with such a major to profess.  Have you noticed lately though how much prior post referencing I'm doing in this blog?  This isn't just a cheap ploy to improve my blog post stats.  It's because I get that deja vu feeling of  "I've been here before" then realize, I have.

     When I started writing this blog, it was with the intention of sharing my personal journey of finding that which I am supposed to be doing with my life.  So many books on finding out what your purpose is focus on a perspective that comes from hindsight.  You don't actually get to see the writer going through the motions that brought them to their current position in life.  In my opinion, this brings more questions than it does answers of how they got there.  I am hoping to answer the question of how I get from point A to point B through my posts in this blog.

     The problem comes when I realize I've hit a "roundabout" on my way to the "beach" and am repeating some of my past trials.  Seems I'm as bad at learning from my own mistakes as I am at reading comprehension.

     Beachcombing is the act of search the beach for things of value, interest, or utility.  I feel like I am so close to the "ocean"...maybe it's time to search the "beach" for all those things that have gotten me to this place.  I am taking the "donkey" as of late, so it's probably a good time to reflect (see You can take the donkey or you can take the tram, February 21, 2012.  Again, not a cheap ploy, but you won't get the "donkey" reference if you didn't read it).

     Hopefully this doesn't come off like the Baz Luhrmann song "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)", as if I am giving a commencement speech, but here we go:  

       Stop being busy with things that aren't important in your life.  Asses your gifts and passions.  Embrace, and don't bury, your true self.  Know unequivocally what you want to say "yes" to in your life so you can say "no" to other things.  Say a final goodbye to the past with no regrets about the path you've walked thus far. 

      Realize that everything you have done previously is ultimately linked to an innate part of your personality.

      Make decisions about what works for you, what doesn't, and how it all fits into your life.  Take responsibility for your own self-worth.  To start moving forward, take baby steps.   Don't let someone else's vision for your life get int the way of your vision for your life. 


      Make every journey a series of tiny, achievable goals.  Even small steps can be momentous occasions.  Face your fears; it only hurts for a minute. Engage in constructive cathartic process as they will heal your soul.

      Know that we all deserve a chance to move on and live our lives. 

      Let people know who you are on the inside be reflecting it outwardly.  Don't withdraw from the world; love openly and enjoy connectedness with others.  Slow down and enjoy the ride...

     So here we are. I am ready to get in the "ocean" and look for that "starfish"...but I'm thinking I'll need to wade in a little off shore first before the perfect little creature presents itself. Wow...I just my mind, I am on a "beach..."

      ...Wear sunscreen...

Happy Fishing!