Feel the Fear—But Don’t Let It Be Your Counselor
by Juliette Jones
When my father died in 1969, his younger brother Ike became a protector and ultimately a mentor. His life had been a classic American tale of “poor boy makes good.” As the youngest of four children, who had grown up in Northern Wisconsin during the hardscrabble Depression Era, he was fortunate to receive a college scholarship to study music, bequeathed by the local women’s club. Once on campus, he parlayed his original scholarship offer into a business major. Subsequently, he rose to become the Vice President of a major U.S. computer corporation.
Luck Is the Residue of Desire.
Ike was the first person in our family to graduate from college, so he was a model for how success could be achieved. Though we emerged out of entirely different world views, he influenced me through his ability to solve problems and fulfill ambitions in life. If asked directly about his accomplishments, he attributed his success to “good luck,” but as I came to know him over the years, I understood that his luck was produced by the strength of his desire, keen observation skills and knowledge of how life works.
Opportunity Is Everywhere.
Ike had a strong conviction that it was possible to find opportunities in places one might not think—or want—to look. Somewhere along the line, I began to adopt this idea that opportunities are concealed in how we meet our challenges and difficulties.
In my own experience, I’ve come to see that whether a challenge lies in my inner or outer circumstances, whether it evokes confusion, anger or fear, whether it involves danger, appears overwhelming or impossibly difficult, it’s possible to use this as fuel for discovery and opportunity. All of us have heard about or known heroic people who can attest to the truth of this principle in their own lives, but we can never know the depths of our own powers of alchemy until we have proven the principle in the laboratory of our own experience.
Handed a Lemon? Make Lemonade!
Recently, my neighborhood, which has long enjoyed a pervasive sense of peace and harmony, was troubled by a series of outdoor burglaries—items taken from both cars and yards. I was one of the victims, and we all filed police reports.
In this neighborhood, we know one another and maintain positive relationships. Not long ago, a house was purchased by an absentee landlord who has no interest in the welfare of the community, and has allowed many people and their “guests” to treat the place like an unsupervised halfway house (which is illegal in our area). The theft problem began around the time of this current occupancy.
One of the “guests” was familiar to law enforcement as a suspicious person, suspected of mischief in other nearby neighborhoods. Nothing is certain, except this individual continues to reconnoiter our streets on his bicycle, and the entire village feels vulnerable.
Being robbed at any level causes one to feel on-edge and unsettles confidence regarding one’s personal safety. While the landlord was tagged on some code violations, this did nothing to solve the core problem. At first, I was extremely angry that our longstanding peace had been violated (I see the irony in this response) but determined to process the feelings, analyze the problem further, and use the energy behind my emotions to vitalize my search for opportunity concealed in the situation. This pro-active approach reduced my feelings of anger and disempowerment.
Protecting Our Energy Is Key.
After strengthening security measures in and around my home, I joined with another concerned neighbor, familiar with municipal rules and regulations, to review county code enforcement. This yielded some positive results, and at present, we continue to explore our position.
As the result of these thefts, over 30 people have joined together in a neighborhood watch. This has already empowered our relationship as neighbors and ability to support one another. Now we can share impactful information quickly, and we view this step as having implications for future uses. The county sheriff has been made aware of our situation, and there are possibilities for community presentations by enforcement officers.
In the wake of my investigations, I became aware of the Sarasota County Victims Assistance Unit which is “available to meet the needs of those who are victims or witnesses to a crime or tragedy,” and offers a substantial program of free supportive services to the public in the following areas:
- Crisis intervention, debriefing and emotional support
- Assistance with victim compensation (when applicable)
- Assistance in filing injunctions for protection
- Accompaniment in and information on the criminal justice system
- Measures toward personal advocacy
- Education and practical assistance related to victimization and reactions
- Community information and referrals
(Bullet points above taken from the Sarasota Sheriff’s Office Victim Assistance information letter)
I have been informed by independent professional sources this program is of exceptionally high quality.
Our neighborhood saga has not yet found resolution, and I suspect it will contain more chapters. Opportunities and information have emerged, but in working with the universe, one must yield to space and time, and keep thoughts and motives working for the collective good.
I was inspired by the recent comment of astronaut Nick Hague after the harrowing experience of a failed rocket launch and the subsequent recovery and rescue. He called it “a success wrapped into a failure.” He is ready to make the attempt once again, and is extremely quick to reframe the challenge into an opportunity.
“Miracles start to happen when you give as much
energy to your dreams as you do to your fears.”
The SSO Victims Assistant Unit can be reached Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 941-861-4942. These services are free and do not require a police report.
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