Safer Than They Think

With what I do at We, Montana!, I get to see people overcome their fears quite often. And it’s both fascinating and rewarding to see it happen. This happens, too, with singers, and Freedom Choir is no exception. We’ve already seen several show up as whisper-singers and turn into soloists in just a few months’ time. So I offer up this poem for your general encouragement along these lines.

Safer Than They Think

by Jack Pelham

Many of the people I know
Are safer than they think.
In one way or another,
They shy away from dangers
That are barely real —
If they are real at all—
Or from a past that can be
Neither present nor future
But with their help.

They tremble at the klaxon warning—
Not realizing that they themselves
Are the ones making it squawk.
They feel the foreboding trepidation,
Not realizing that they are the ones
Fanning into flame the dying embers of
What has gone before,
And fueling it anew with the imagination.

They have got themselves talked into
Not being free. Not being safe. Not being OK.

It’s only talk, of course.
A mere notion.
And its only power—
If it has any power at all—
Lies in the chance
That someone might pick the fear of a tiny thing
And believe it to be much more than it really is.

They fear, of course, that those fleeting feelings
Of embarrassment
Or of doom
Or of despair
Or of remorse
Are permanent and unbearable.
They have no idea that such things
Are only temporary and tolerable.
They have no idea that they can
Move past such things.

In believing hands, such fear becomes
The monster they think it is—
The very reason for their failures—
The bane of their existence—
The Nemesis who shall have
Robbed them by the end
Of much of what
They might have wished for
In their short lives.

Few have little idea that the gloriously simple
Defenses against it
Lie merely in refusing to adopt it,
And in being willing to endure
The unsettling feelings
Until it is all finally settled.

For those who can but
Refuse to believe it —
Who can stand the test—
It is done at their refusal of it.
It falls disarmed and lifeless
To the floor—
Where one may look at it
And ponder what all the fuss
Was ever about,
And regret that anyone should have ever
Spent so much time
Cowering at what as
But a shadow
Made of make-believe and difficult feelings.

Few realize that, upon deciding
What to believe about themselves
In the mundane matters of life,
They run such risk of being entrapped
In the simple habit of believing
What should have been rejected already—
What could have been rejected already—
What could be done away with once and for all.

They are safer than they think.
And when they figure this out—
And when they dare to believe it,
Pushing through the brief discomfort of it—
You will see them fly!