By listening to our fears, we protect ourselves…sometimes from our worst nightmares. Overcoming fear, as I have learned from a few hugely impactful and distinct experiences in my life over the past 10 years, does not mean a discovery that the fears were irrational, invalid, illegitimate, and unjustified. We don’t conquer fear and that’s it…we’re done and we succeed. What really happens is that a person’s husband really does kill himself. What really happens is that we find out we really do suck at something so horrifically and bad as we always thought. What really happens is we move hundreds or thousands of miles to a new job, only to work two weeks and change our minds. And what really happens is we tell people we love them and they don’t say it back…or worse, that we’re left at the alter on our wedding day.
Action…and moving forward…I’ve done without question. With no understanding of why, I have dug in my heels and gone to work. And, I have yet to understand the purpose behind doing this. I have taken the plunge on those few occasions in blind faith because something inside me just stopped questioning. I knew what to do and knew what I had to do.
But for what? Pain?
Someone (I don’t remember who) once said that it’s not the fear of loss that prevents us from acting, but the fear of pain that comes with loss. Perhaps this is true. Regardless, I don’t really understand my place or role in this world and what I’m doing….yet. I don’t understand how I can help and inspire you to leave your crazy husband with my own story that will legitimize every fear you have….or inspire you to start your own business with the failure of my own venture. I don’t understand how I can help you come out of your shell and just do it anyway….let go and show every ounce of vulnerability you have…when you can see all too well what can happen, by my example.
And if it’s not the outcome of my efforts that scares you to death, maybe it’s the judgement and criticism you see me facing. Even the kind that comes from people’s silence….because that’s often the worst. At least when people criticize and judge to a person’s face, they give that person something to work with….or not. Maybe there’s nothing to work with and you know it and so does everyone else.
And maybe what we fear is true…that at the end of it all….there is no success, reward, or anything really good, actually. Risk is risk and when you take a chance on anything, you do it knowing that you can and will likely fail…no matter what potential, greatness, or passion may stir inside you. When you take a chance….and do it anyway….you may end up feeling stupid and thinking you were better off protecting yourself.
So, no…I may not be able to help or inspire you by example. I may not write some great book that helps and inspires you to live your best life, when mine probably looked pretty great before 2008 or so and has looked like hell the past decade. All I’m going to be able to do is tell you to do it anyway. Because, no matter if you fall on your face or die, you only have one life (presumably) in which to give it a go. There’s no chance at all if you do nothing.
And maybe….even if you don’t end up understanding (any more than I do) why you put yourself through the pain….there will be a day when someone lifts you up off the floor after the fall. Or maybe not. There’s never going to be a guarantee…no matter what some preacher or religion may have told you. You may want to be Abraham….but maybe you’re more like Job.
Do it anyway…
(This post was first written February 11, 2020, on what would have been my late husband’s 48th birthday. If death has any purpose at all, it’s to remind the living to experience as much as possible and savor….absolutely everything.)