The legacy of fear

We wend our way cautiously
down life's tortuous and ill-defined path.
The wind of change has blown down the signposts
and the rain of time has washed away
the marks left by those who have gone before.
Machete in hand, we clear the underbrush,
sometimes finding footprints to follow,
otherwise forging our own blind destiny.
And yet we are not alone in this jungle.
Life abounds and surrounds us
in its seemingly endless exuberance.
Often we must dodge the swinging
machetes of our fellow travellers
lest we are done irreparable injury.
Often we must hold back our own
lest we seriously injure another.

When darkness falls, we hunker down.
Alone and even in groups we gather,
collectively and separately girding ourselves
against the encroaching unknown.
Lore and knowledge are our weapons.
We turn our backs to the whispering silence.
Our faces glow and dance like some
evil demons in the flickering firelight.
We are at once reduced to our basest selves,
the lowest common denominator.
Our bravest and our most educated souls
are equally unable to conquer this most
ancient of all the world's negative forces.
Once we have named our nemesis
we can at least attempt to continue on our way,
once more forward into the daylight hours.

Fear breaks the most rational of minds
and sends them scurrying for safety
like so many rats whose nest has
been discovered by a marauding cat.
Fear cannot be conquered,
but it can be "overcome"
by continuing on our way in spite of it.
Hold it close to your heart and go forward.