“Are you afraid to drive home now?” The graphic artist at the newspaper where I work asked me last night at midnight, when we parted company in Tel Aviv after putting the paper to bed. “Yes,” I told him honestly, “I do hope I get home safely.”
With no traffic jams, the trip from Tel Aviv to Talmon late on a Thursday night is very short, but still the journey is fraught with dangers.
In the parking lot – there are club-goers wending their way to and from the nightclub across the way. Some are tipsy, and I steer clear of them. I am afraid of driving when I’m tired. Afraid of missing my turnoff and heading south to Rishon Letzion instead of east on Route 1 (I’m not the only one, right?), afraid of an accident because of the driver who’s more tired than me, and is zigzagging between the lanes.
At Shilat junction I stop for a hitchhiker, and there’s always the nagging question of what if someone scary gets into my car. But at this time of night most of those waiting are teenagers on their way home from a night on the town or carless young couples returning from weddings. Maybe I shouldn't stop.
I decide to stop, but only to fill up at the petrol station on the way.
Not far from my home I see signs of stone-throwing and the remains of Molotov cocktails that were hurled at passing cars just a quarter of an hour ago. It turns out that stopping to fill up with gas and have a cup of coffee was a brilliant idea.
At home my little girl is waiting for me, crying and in pain. This too can sometimes frighten me terribly. This time I am calm because I realize that it’s just a lingering ear infection. After a long cuddle she goes back to sleep and I finally slip into my own bed. My dreams are also sometimes frightening.
I am fearful by nature. Fears accompany me everywhere. Some are normal and rational, others less so. I let my fears float to the surface, speak about them with my friends, write about them, and most of all, find ways to take action against them. The most important thing when facing fear is not to give in.
The popular Israeli song, “Whoever has a strong belief has no fear" is nonsense. Anyone who has human feelings in his heart has fears. I’m sorry if I sound like a beginner personal coach, but the guiding principle in my life of facing fears is not to let the fear control me.
Sometimes it wins – perhaps that’s how it feels lately, but the truth is that I can chalk up a resounding victory, especially considering the next 24 hours.
It’s Friday night. Ten years have passed since my bridal Shabbat – the religious equivalent of a bachelorette party. If I had let my fears control me, I wouldn’t be living here, and I wouldn’t even have my two little girls. Do you know how terrifying it is to bring children into the world? How much fear there is before each pregnancy? Before each birth? If I had allowed fear to control me I would not have made new friendships, would not have landed a job, would never have bought a house with a frightening mortgage, would never have married. I also wouldn’t be writing here.
“Courage, Fania!” says Yehiel in Shulamit Lapid’s book, Gai Oni, “Courage!” With this one word Yehiel emboldens the young woman who has married him to voice her innermost feelings for the first time, to open up, to come close to him, to be his wife and the mother of his children, to feel something else other than fear.
Fania Silles, in Dan wollman's Movie version to the bestseller
If only we could all have a little more courage in our lives.