Power and Fear

Audre-Lorde-in-front-of-a-007When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” Audre Lorde

The words quoted above are by the African American poet, Audre Lorde. I had to admit I had heard the name but was not really familiar with Audre Lorde’s poetry, and in particular, this statement. When writing my first published book, Life’s Spices From Seasoned Sistahs, A Collection of Life Stories From Mature Women of Color, I received a submission with this statement under the writer’s signature line. It grabbed me quickly for it spoke to the body of work I was attempting to assemble and publish. I was living her words. Power and fear are two dynamic forces everyone has experienced in life. We have learned to have power over ourselves, growing up in households where each of these forces became very well understood. As toddlers we learned who had the power over us, our parents. This fact was re-enforced as they made decisions for us until throughout childhood to adults.

Parents have control over their children’s power. As children, critical learning sometimes included healthy doses of fear. Many parents used the punishment of pain when training a child not to touch the heater, or to stay away from the stove. Parents often use fear equating the hot furnace, or pot with getting burned and pain. We learn by our own successes and from the times we fail from our formative years.

I printed the Audre Lorde’s words in bold large print and taped it to my computer monitor to face me daily. Over the past 14 years I have retyped those words and affixed it to new monitors. It became my mantra, my just do it, get over yourself; she enabled me to sharply define my vision. I was embarking on something new, and becoming an editor and publisher frightened me to death. I had a passion for this work, and had to plunge forward. Audre coached and counseled me. Her words cajoled me to keep moving forward to take the fear, and let it become my tail wind. I was carving a new something and the fear of the unknown mattered less than for me to keep on going.

I know both power and fear are ever present, but sometimes to realize a dream, you cannot allow one to over shadow the other. Think about how they have worked in your life and affected the choices you made when under the power of one or the other. Remember Audre’s words when you come to that crossroad and remember your vision.

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