Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I’d like to see you in better living conditions. – Hafez of Persia
What does that mean?
While the English versions of Hafez’s verses are often considered more an approximation than a translation, I found this one to be quite interesting, and worthy of consideration, even if it isn’t exactly literal.
The phrase ‘the cheapest room in the house’ refers to the lowest, meanest and least expensive accommodations in an apartment building or hotel. It means living in cramped and dingy quarters.
The quote finishes by saying that it would be nice if you lived in better circumstances. As Fear is what is keeping you in that nasty room, the implication is that by letting go of fear, you can move up to better accommodations.
Why is putting unhealthy fear behind you important?
Let’s start by drawing a line between healthy fear (an elevated sense of caution, as in being afraid of a tiger in the open or being in a burning building) and unhealthy fear (being unable to move when seeing a tiger in a zoo or a news report of a house fire). Fear can be useful, when applied properly.
But that’s now what this quote is about. This quote is about living in fear, and relegating yourself to the smallest, nastiest room in the hotel. Being cautious, being prudent, taking precautions, those are fine. But letting fear lock you in the basement, hidden away from the dangers you perceive in life, that isn’t truly living, is it?
By putting that unhealthy fear behind you, life begins to open up. Soon, you begin to feel worthy of a better room. Life is less threatening, and you feel less defensive. You feel better about yourself, you begin to get a better feeling for the balance between living and risk, and the unhealthy fear begins to recede.
That’s not to say one should become reckless, the healthy fear still should help serve as guidance. But you can begin to live life more fully, to move into better living conditions, a nicer room. While this is nice advice, there are those with true fear issues, best handled with the assistance of a professional.
Where can I apply this in my life?
Take a moment and consider how different your life would be if you could put your unhealthy fear(s) behind you? I don’t know what yours might be, in particular, but it can really cramp your style. While I don’t have a classic fear of heights, I do have a problem with being unsupported or unsecured near the edge of a tall space.
I can stand on the edge of a two story roof, as I feel I would probably survive that short a fall. I’m not afraid of the height or the fall, but the sudden stop at the bottom. If there is a sturdy looking railing, I’m good. The glass bottomed overlooks, that’s a bit more challenging, but I try not to let my fear put me in back in a basement room.
What bothers you? What really makes it hard to live, and keeps you in the cheap room in the basement of the apartment? Common ones include heights, spiders, snakes and creatures in general. Yes, they can be dangerous, but do you feel a need to burn the house down if you see a spider in it? Is that a helpful fear or an unhealthy one?
But how do you overcome this kind of fear? Most of the unhealthy ones are based on lack of information or misinformation. Learn more about it. If you’re afraid of heights, find out more about fall prevention and safety features to reduce the risk of falling. If you’re afraid of bugs, find out more about what lives in your area, and how dangerous they actually are.
By learning about these things, you will often find your fears are unjustified and inappropriate. That makes them unhealthy as you are limiting what you do and where you go based on an untruthful story you have been told, and believe. Once you know, you can respond in a more healthy And appropriate manner.
If you no longer believe that all spiders are poisonous and a threat to your life, you no longer have to fear them. It doesn’t mean you have to become friends with them, but scream and run can be removed from the list of automatic responses to seeing a spider, right?
If you have a true phobia, then you may want to consult a professional to assist you with moving out of your old apartment, right? But if it’s something a bit simpler, it may well be time to reconsider why you have this fear, and what you can do to convince yourself that it isn’t useful or helpful.
Are you ready to move out of that nasty little room and into better living conditions? Work on reducing your unhealthy fear, and feel your life open up.
From: Twitter, @jackkornfield
confirmed at : translation by Daniel Ladinsky, from The Gift: Poems by Hafiz, the Great Sufi Master
photo by Erik Cleves Kristensen