Watch for Falling Rocks
My father, god rest his soul, and my dentist, god bless his gentle hands, each in their own way have taught me similar lessons about fear and anxiety. When I was a young girl riding in the passenger seat, up front, next to my dad, long before the dawn of airbags or seat belts, I saw a ‘Watch For Falling Rocks’ sign on the side of the highway. I began to look up at the cliffs above the roadside. My dad asked me what I was looking for up in the air. I told him about the sign I had seen.
He explained that even though the rocks fell down from the cliffs above, what drivers need to be on the lookout for were rocks that had already fallen down onto the road. He said looking up in an attempt to protect yourself from what might become a danger to you could prevent you from noticing an obstacle or stumbling block already in your path.
My dentist phrased the same message in a slightly different way. I’m not afraid of pain; I’m afraid of not being able to breathe, or at least of feeling as if I can’t breathe. “Cinse,” my dentist said to me when I confessed that this was the reason I was so anxious, “stopping worrying about something that might not even happen. Everything’s fine right now.”