Understanding the difference between skillful vs unskillful fear is an important Buddhist concept. I’ve been thinking about this in very personal terms. When I did my convergence installation earlier this year, I had to face some fears. The piece is installed in the middle of the woods. To fully experience the piece, you must visit in the dark of night with no lights. That can be a somewhat scary thing, especially with the constant sounds of the forest and all the animals around you. But I pushed myself forward to do this with skillful fear. I remember sitting there under cover of darkness, the convergence orbs glowing nearby, hearing the snaps and cracks of animals and birds all around. I even heard the snorting of deer who dashed away as soon as they detected my presence. My heart raced at these encounters with skillful fear, helping me ultimately get more in touch with my love for these animals and nature at large.

I captured one of the encounters on video when I heard something moving towards me. It turned out to be an armadillo! I had never seen an armadillo in Georgia before. When I showed the footage to my parents, they were amazed as in their almost-70 years of living there, they also had never seen an armadillo. I guess it takes a New York artist working in the woods—and a bit of skillful fear—to bring them out!

No matter what your fears may be, I encourage you to practice skillful fear. Use your fear as a tool to uncover more productive feelings within—not as a weapon in defense.


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