From Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper



We’re all scared most of the time. Life would be lifeless if we weren’t. Be scared, and then jump into that fear. Again and again. Just remember to hold on to yourself while you do it. P 137

I wish we could write down our fears on a checklist
I would love to jot them down, one per line
and then have the satisfaction
of crossing them off once they have been faced.

If only it were that simple.

To name them would look something like this:

Fear of loss
Fear of being alone
Fear of being truly seen
Fear of friends never calling for coffee
Fear of driving on snow covered roads
Fear of mirrors and being photographed
Fear of holding a tray in a crowded cafeteria with nowhere to sit
Fear of not having a book to get lost in
Fear of rejection

Fear of son going to college and never coming home

If I could, I would take a pen and cross them out
one by one;
pressing so hard
that I might tear through the paper.

One must be armed with bravery
and courage to get through such a list.
Facing down fears
as if they were an evil
nemesis that must be destroyed.

Yet that’s how they do it
in the books
my kids read.

Like Digory and Polly.
If they hadn’t overcome their fear and
jumped into the puddle–
Narnia would never have been created.

World building
is not for cowards.
And yet, I am slowly but surely
creating my own own.
Bit my bit
word by word
scene by scene.

I have two characters,
Jack and Nate.
My real life
has somehow
become entwined
with their imagined ones.

And this week
I sent off an application
for a writing residency.
So much for fear of rejection

Every day I wake up
and I tell myself:
Be brave.
Be bold.
Don’t be afraid.

2 thoughts on “From Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper

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