Some movies reach beyond your need to escape, rest, or just zone out. Some movies tap into something personal, making you pay attention, sit up, and check in with yourself. It’s unexpected and almost intrusive. You’re in a movie theatre or at home and all of a sudden you are hit with a realization regarding yourself or your humanity that you forgot in the hustle and bustle of the days, months, or years. Movies (and art) like this create space for you that you had no idea you needed, and you become shocked by the vulnerability. Movies only sometimes surprise me like this. Moana was the last movie that had me in a theater with tears in my eyes because I too am a raging volcano earth-quaking for a more gentle approach to what it means to be a (Black) woman in this world (I know I wasn’t the only one!).
Netflix’s Bird Box, based off of the book by Josh Malerman, was another surprise. What drew me to watch it was the memes on Instagram I didn’t get and my two favorite things: psychological thrillers and apocalypse movies. That is all I expected to engage with when it started. However, once it was over, I found myself sitting in an inspiring comfort with an affirmation that fear doesn’t have to win this year.
Say what you will about the writing, acting, or the fact that Machine Gun Kelly and his boo are never mentioned again after stealing the car, Bird Box encapsulates FEAR in its most elusive form:
If that is not a perfect personification of fear at its worst! And I’ve known that formless entity for a while now. It snuck up on me when I changed jobs a few years ago. I locked eyes with Fear and my days hazily passed over me with all the failure that was sure to ensue because I dared to dream of a life in New York City where I was thriving in my mission to create sustainable change in education through art. Some days, in my bed, in the dark, and unemployed, I was convinced that in a matter of minutes I was going to be homeless and on the street. No one-I mean NO ONE could convince me otherwise. I was a zombie like the rest of them. Just like in Bird Box. Hypnotized by the fear. And Sometimes fear wins. The entity completely consumes us or our loved ones and we are out of reach. Bird Box wasted no time reminding me how that felt. However, at the same moment, the movie personified what it looks like when you tell fear to STFU. Malorie (Sandra Bullock) in the forest with the entity closing in and the voices begging her to look, while her children are separated from her. She yells: You will not take my children.
That is the mood I want to bring into 2019.
Fear is not going to take anything dear and precious from me this year. Fear is not going to convince me that my world is over if I take one more step. Although I may not be able to eradicate fear indefinitely, I can enhance my voice to confirm my truth (some call it faith, love, God, the Divine, etc.), which is not based in fear. I will be able to see what is on the other side of fear this year. It has been my experience that when I make decisions and walk forward in spite of fear, I am met with something that enhances my life and purpose beyond my expectation, which is the exact opposite of what fear convinces us is going to happen.
Like I said, I was just trying to watch a movie about the end of the world and understand what all the memes were about. I was not trying to be inspired to confront my fears this year and be fearless. But that is what happened. Hence, this year I will keep the blindfold on when fear tries to convince me to not move forward in my career, love, goals, and dreams. I will not keep my mouth shut when claiming what is for me. I will listen to my intuition and the voice I know is connected to my truth. I will nourish that voice so that it is louder than the entity and I will keep goin. I do not expect to always be invincible in the face of fear, but rather empowered to live and thrive despite it.
Make no mistake, there is a lot that one could be afraid of going into 2019, especially as a person of color or a member of any other marginalized community forced to convince the world of your humanity. Be warned, the entity can take the form of a country trying to suffocate us; trying to convince us that there is no hope and nothing we can do; trying to distract us with pursuits of the absolute right and righteous way to pursue a just world, instead of forging that world for ourselves. Fear will try to convince us to wait our turn, to believe in fear itself to keep us safe in the interim and pretend we are comfortable the way things are now. I think I speak for all of us when I say:
Fear, you can STFU.
Tayllor Johnson currently resides in New York City where she has begun her journey into Poet. Passion. Period. In between those learning moments, she sometimes has just enough time to jot a few lines...