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Faith and Giant Pickles


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I think it's okay to be afraid of certain things. Like tsunamis, or terrorists, or those people who buy giant pickles at amusement parks.

But it seems like fear is overpowering so many of us these days. I went for a ride in a car the other day. It wasn't my car; I didn't even know the fellah ("fellah" is a cool word) who gave me a ride. I was out of gas, and he took me from the gas station (where I paid enough money for a gas can to balance the federal deficit) back to my car.

My wife was practically in tears by the time I got back. Worried about me. And this is from a woman who regularly does daring things like watching horror movies and homeschooling. You know, fearless.

So when did fear become such a part of our lives? When did things become bad enough that we had to worry about taking a five block ride with a stranger? Who DOES make those pickles, and how do they find such big cucumbers?

These are the questions that drive men mad. I think they make women fidgety, too, but I can't be sure about that. 'Cause I'm a dude.

Anywho, I wonder sometimes if there is a way to combat the fear that lives around us all the time. I think part of the problem is that to be less afraid, we have to invite more people to help us. Of course, if we let them help us, that almost always leaves them in a position to hurt us, too. And it's hard to let someone into a position where they might hurt us if we're scared of them. And we get scared of them because we have no good experiences to balance our bad fears. Viscious cycle. Sort of like the "Hellspin" setting on my washing machine.

What's the answer, then? How to overcome the fear? How to let people in?

Faith, I guess. Faith that people are better than we fear. Faith to get back up after someone knocks us down. Faith that someday all the giant pickles in the world will be extinct like the dodo bird and MC Hammer's career.

I like the idea of having faith in people. It makes me all fuzzy inside. But the good kind of fuzzy. Teddy bear fuzzy, not "Hey how long has this pizza been in the fridge?" fuzzy. I like the idea of believing in people, and believing in their infinite ability to be good.

But how can I do that? you ask. How can I believe in the goodness of people when the news is so full of stories of people being evil to one another? SOMEONE has to make those evil pickles, right?

That's the ten billion dollar question. I don't know the answer. I suppose the best we can do is be like kids. Not the part where they wet their pants, or where they pick their noses and eat it. No, I'm talking about the ability to be in the moment. Ask what they're afraid of, and you'll probably get some answer like "spiders" or "the dark" or "big pickles." But only when they're IN the dark, or when they're NEAR a spider, or when they SEE a big pickle. Ask what they're afraid of when they're playing in the sandbox, and you'll likely get either a "Huh?" or get invited to leave by two husky kids with earpieces and whose toy plastic shovels have decidedly sharp edges.

Kids are afraid, sure. But most of them don't let the fear cripple them the way adults do. Deal with the fear, then move on. (Or, in the case of my daughter, get someone ELSE to deal with her fear so she can move on that much quicker... I'm not sure if this means she is a great delegator or the spawn of the Evil One, and I'm not sure I want to.)

I think next time I get hurt, I'm going to try to take it like a kid. Meaning that instead of holding onto the thing that hurts me, adding it to my fear like some kind of psychic boulder that I'll then have to carry around for eternity, I'm going to knock that boulder into sand and play. I'm going to do my darndest to forget the hurt and get to the fun. I'm going to toss away thoughts of big pickles and focus instead on the churros of life.

I don't really know where I'm going with this, other than to say that churros are really good, even if a bit overpriced. And also, let's be more childlike in our deeds. Let's pick our noses and eat it. Let's poop in our pants and not be embarrassed about it.

Let's make friends as though nothing bad has ever happened to us.
Let's play like there's nothing to be afraid of.
Let's love like only people worthy of that love exist.

Let's not let fear take us out of the sandbox.

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Michaelbrent Collings is an internationally bestselling novelist and screenwriter. You can find him on Facebook at facebook.com/MichaelbrentCollings, on Twitter @mbcollings, or you can sign up for his mailing list here.