I hear it every day of my life.
“I am afraid.”
People tell me they are afraid of losing money. Of getting sick. Of being misunderstood. Of shooting too high. Of being misunderstood. Of shooting too low. Of breaking some kind of social code someone at Harvard invented. Of being disliked. Of taking a risk. Of doing what society frowns at.
What they are really saying in so many words is that they are afraid of life. And once this fear is allowed to fester, once it is left unchecked, once it qualifies for all manner of justification, it sucks its victims into a black hole.
The fear mushrooms and the life diminishes. It is a miserable syndrome. It is paralyzing. It leaves its marks frozen in a compromised place, hostage to what everyone else wants but detached from the experiences, the journey, they really want to take.
Fear makes millions, billions, their own worst enemy. Their heart says fly me away to this beautiful vision that stands before me. Let me take it by its outstretched hand and soar to a place I know will be exhilarating, magnificent, rewarding, challenging, intoxicating, delicious. The hand is honest and pure and true and loving and willing to reach out over and over again, but the coupling never occurs.
Fear strikes. Fear stops. Fear freezes the momentum in its tracks. The person who needs to be safe, to pass the acid test of acceptability imposed by anonymous crowds, to walk the beaten path, to do the traditional thing, to insure against failure, says “No” to the dangerous liaison, the high risk project, the change in direction, the road the priests of false morality seek to bar from passage (for all but themselves.)
Paradoxically, fear prevails when in truth there is nothing in life to fear. There is nothing in death to fear. Fear is the enemy of life. If one has faith, if one simply identifies the few genuine truths and passions in their lives and pursues them with zest and courage, well that is the definition of a life well lived.
The universal aspiration should be to replace fear with faith. There are so many rich things you can do with your life that have zero guarantee of success but which you must jump into like a child cannon balling into a summer pond.
Your time alone.
Your time with many.
All must be conducted with a determination to do it your way, to fully cultivate the gift of life, to take the chances, to embrace the risks, to put the standard setters, the paper prophets, back in their boxes and to busy themselves with others.
You will not fear. You will pick your goals, decide when to act, walk the high wire, care nothing at all when the fear mongers chasten you. You will go to that special place where people achieve and experience the exceptional.
You will never again look back and say I let it get away out of fear.
You will not fear. You see the black hole. It is not for you.
There is too much life to live.