Clutching my thin briefcase, I tentatively entered the large room, which was ornately paneled with dark wood. Four dim-lighted sconces on the front wall were the only source of light. As I stepped forward, I heard the door close behind me, followed by the soft click of a key turning. The room had a high ceiling and an echo-like empty feel to it. I walked forward and stopped in front of an immense oak desk that was centered on a raised platform. A person would have had to climb stairs to sit behind it. I looked up, but I could see no one.
“Mr. Doe?” came a resonant voice.
“Yes,” I replied. “John Doe.”
“I understand that you’re here to apply for the position of Fear Specialist.”
“Yes,” I replied.
“What makes you think you’re qualified for the position? We don’t hire just anyone, you know.”
“Well,” I replied, as I attempted to hand my resume upward to the voice above me, if you’ll take a look…”
“Just give me the highlights,” said the voice.
“Well, I know something of fear myself, so I can well relate. When I was four, I was afraid of the boogeyman–so scared that I occasionally peed the bed. When I was eight, I was afraid of getting a few scrapes when I was learning to ride my bike. I cried more than a few times. And when I was a teenager, I was so afraid of being rejected by the in-crowd that I turned against myself to be accepted.”
“Nice,” said the voice, “that’s a good start. But what have you done recently?”
I flipped to the second page of my resume and scanned down the lines. “Well, during recent years,” I said, “I have dwelt upon as much bad news as I possibly can. In fact, I fill myself with it. As a result, I’ve endured a lot of fear and a tremendous degree of physical pain and mental anguish. I’m quite familiar with the coverage of war, terrorism, bomb attacks, and even viruses.”
“Very nice,” said the voice. I imagined it smiling, if such could be possible. “You may be just the man we’re seeking.”
Inwardly, I smiled. How I needed the job. I slid my resume back into my briefcase.
“What are you willing to do to fit into our organization?”
“Almost anything,” I said, but as soon as the words exited my mouth I felt a twinge stab through me.
“Bow,” said the voice. It was a command, not a question.
“Pardon me,” I said. “What did you say?”
“I said ‘bow.’ The voice was harsh now. “Do it now, or this interview is over. There are plenty more like you that are eager for an interview.”
Time stood still as the realization of what I was being asked–no told!–to do settled within me. A cold shiver ran down my legs. Was this a nightmare? What price was I willing to pay to get the job? From somewhere deep within me, I felt the warm wellspring of power rise within me. It felt glorious, a power that was beyond any fear related to humankind. I need not bow. I would not bow.
A few moments later, as I felt that power surge within my being, I turned my back to the courtroom and marched proudly toward the door. “Come back, come back!” the angry voice called, but I refused to turn. The door opened easily, and as I stepped toward the light, I felt the building collapse into a heap of ruble. For the first time in years, I knew I was free.
This article is not intended to imply that we are wrong for taking sensible precautions during a challenging period; nor does it imply that we’re not brave if we feel a degree of fear or insecurity as the current situation unfolds. I’m only suggesting that we can ask ourselves if fear must dominate our lives. It can’t without our permission. More faith, less fear. We are strong.
Dare to dream (and care for one another).
With heartfelt regards,
Copyright © – 2020 – R. Arthur Russell