Tag Archives: fear

Enjoy the Journey

It’s getting dark out. Light glows from the sconces behind the luggage racks, above weary travelers who are jostled by every movement of the train. Some have fallen asleep, leaning against dark windows. Some are awake, occupying themselves on their phone.

I am awake. The glowing screen of my laptop and thoughts of the past day occupy me.

I haven’t always enjoyed train rides. I associate them with leaving loved ones behind, and in fact, this is what every one of my train trips has involved, except my very first. My first experience riding the rails was on the Adirondack Scenic, and I was just a tot. The red leather seats left a lasting impression on me. Since then, I’ve been on too many train trips to count.

In college, the wisest professors advised me to travel. To broaden my perspective. And travel I have, since then, in small doses. But instead of enjoying the experiences, I thought of almost nothing but the home I left behind. And to a great extent, traveling broadened my experience of sadness, and little else.

Marriage was (and is) the journey that changed my perception of travel. I now can feel safe in the unknown, home in the unfamiliar. It is a sensation I have never felt before, because, I think, I have never before been so drawn out of myself as I have been by love for my husband. With him as my anchor, I’ve had numerous new experiences and turned out not only fine, but enriched and happy. And all those new experiences combined have made me confident enough to feel at home, away from home.

Well. Sometimes, at least. 🙂



The smallest things can eat up your mind as soon as they go missing. A key, a book, a ring, a letter. All of a sudden we’ll forget everything else and go searching for that one offending item, turning the world upside down until the wayward object is found.

It’s not so easy when you lose a someone instead of a something. Someone you now know you’ve spoken your last words to and won’t be seeing again.

The missing things and missing pieces can eat us alive if we let them. Or we can realize the value of all we have left and the people we’re still surrounded by. It’s true you never know what you’ve got till it’s gone; absence makes the heart grow fonder because it rips a piece from your heart and promises to replace it later with stitches of love. The things and people that go missing remind us how fragile life is, and how quickly it can all change. It’s easy to live in fear, knowing this. Fear that sucks the joy and gratitude and every good thing from life.

“A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once.” -Shakespeare

We’re not made to fear. We’re made to live and love with courage, to thank God for what He’s given rather than fear what He can take away. Sometimes it takes a stab of sorrow to remind us that we can still feel, that we’re not numb and impenetrable as a medieval fortress. That life gets to us, and it matters.

There’s a verse in Switchfoot’s song Awakening: “I want to live like I know what I’m leaving.” To me this speaks about the goodness of life, the value of recognizing that goodness while we’ve got it, and the knowledge that one day we’ll be moving on.

Not Afraid Anymore

There are two ways of doing things. Continuing in your old habits because you know you like them, or continuing because you’re afraid of change. “Maybe the way things are is the best way things can be,” you tell yourself. Maybe. But it’s very rarely the case.

It takes a while to work up the courage to be truly afraid and make it through anyway. To see what’s on the other side, and realize—this is what I was afraid of? Fear of the new is a ball and chain, bars that keep you locked inside and away from what could be, what would be if you dared.

It takes time. It takes endurance and willpower. It takes a nudge, a shove, maybe more than that. And once you’re on the other side, one day you’ll realize that you’re not afraid anymore.

Not afraid. You’re out of your cave, blinking in the sunlight, maybe for the first time.

Song of Hope

Late afternoon sun lights up the end of the long hallway. It’s quiet and still. I’m here alone, sitting on a convenient chair just outside the closed door. I’m waiting for it to open.

I know the drill. Somebody’s in there right now, another homeschool highschooler, presenting their interp to the row of judges. I would love to watch, but I never watch right before I give my own speech. I need time to focus. Rehearse the lines silently in my head. After that, just wait.

The nerves start to play with you when you’re waiting for the door to open, but that’s nothing new. You find ways of calming yourself, and though you always stay a little afraid, the thrill of performing soon overcomes the butterflies.

I have space in this hallway, in this Korean church and school in New Jersey, to settle down and mentally prepare for my speech. The diffuse glow on the linoleum floors is soft and pleasant. Once again, I feel the nerves tie my stomach in knots.

Go away, I tell them. I shift in the kid’s chair. Still nervous. Quietly, I begin to sing to myself, sing the nerves away.

It’s Song of Hope, and it’s one of my tournament theme songs. At least, it became my theme song that day. It’s a song that makes you feel small, in a good way. It made speech room stage fright up and disappear when I needed it to.

Typically fear follows me into the competition room and remains for the first few seconds of performance until I find my groove and stay there. Not this time. This time when the door opens I’m ready, standing with an easy smile.

I enter and walk to the center of the room. The judges are finishing writing down their thoughts from the previous performance. I hold up my name tag where they can easily see.

“My name is Kira Gregory. Are the judges ready?” They nod. “The timer?” Yup. “Let’s begin.”

Stranger World

How do you prepare for the scariest thing that’s ever happened to you?

You wait. You wonder. You cry. You push it away.

You’re “fine” once you’ve pushed it away. You’re so good you hardly know you’ve done it.

Till something makes you remember, and you feel the jolt, it’s closer now. It’s gaining on you. And it’s going to catch you, no matter how fast you run.

How do you prepare to be caught?

You can think about the other side. You can think of the last time this happened to you, remember that the scariest things turn into the best things. But that doesn’t help until you’re on the flip side.

Really all you can do is know that you made the right choice. It won’t seem like the right choice. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to hurt. It’s going to be sad. And you’ll be alone.

Know you made the right choice when it’s about to catch you. Know the price you pay is directly related to the prize you glean. Know pain counts for something. Know it will be worth it, one way or another.

Welcome to the world, stranger.

Guitar Monster

It’s a monster!

Two legs, three arms, at least one head, and it’s making noise! What is that thing? We can’t tell. We don’t know. We’re running away!

Chickens are scared of guitars. They’re not too smart.

Wait, what’s that chattery sound? What’s that jar? The monster has corn! Oh! Oh! What do we do? How do we get the corn?

Chickens are crazy about corn. Even when it’s near a guitar.

Eek, run, the monster’s close! It’s opening the door! Quick, scoot out when it’s not looking. There. Wait, it’s throwing corn! GET THE CORN! This has got to be a safe distance, right? Now that it’s giving us corn…

Corn trumps guitar monster.

Seasons of Change

Spring has long been my favorite season. I love to feel the aura of growth everywhere, of the world waking up. Even at night I can sense the change through the temperature and tone of the wind.

Now it’s late summer, and change is coming again. The sun’s light is clearer with lower humidity, so everything looks brighter. The slanting rays will get much lower before the leaves fall, but this year I can feel that the warm days are numbered, and it seems the plants and insects know as well. In spring the change is more sudden, but fall’s magic is just as strong.

Morning glory, dill seeds, and cilantro blossoms in my garden.

These are the two turning points of the year. I think they’re the most spellbinding.

Oddly, when seasons change in my own life, they don’t get a warm welcome. After a few years of college and attempting to be a grown-up, I know that events I feel the most apprehension about are the ones that change me the most and result in the most learning. Driving a car. Figuring out how to manage a film shoot come rain or shine and only one chance. Attacking unexplored subject material. I fear the unknown, but after looking back on the new experiences I’ve survived, I see that excursions into uncharted territory yield the strongest memories—they make me feel more alive.

Seasons of change are beautiful. They come in bursts. And just like Autumn’s leaves of fire, they don’t last for long.

Stereopair with sumacs!