Joining the Chorus
Forgot to finish the title the first time around! Oops. Let’s try this.
Today, September 9th, has seen a sudden upsurge in the mention of a certain massive and horrific terrorist attack on US soil. Two days from the 10th anniversary of 9/11, it’s time to start remembering the horror again. Yes, it was a tragedy on a massive scale. Many people were murdered in the name of religion and hate (the most contradictory coupling ever.) It is something we should never forget. Many of the articles discuss the question, “What have we learned?” I love this question. What have we learned?
“What have we learned?” is a staple question in my life. It is one way for me to analyze and evaluate my life. It helps me take stock of everything and helps inform my future actions.
I’ve been thinking a lot about fear and risks lately. My previous post on risk is a good companion to what’s coming up in… 4… 3… 2…1… Go!
As with risks, fear is a part of life. It is an inescapable feeling. Different people become afraid for different reasons. For me, spiders do it every time. And for me, a lot of things that tend to inspire fear in others either make me really happy or doesn’t even register. One thing that, from my vantage point, paralyzes people with fear but has little effect on me is the fear of negative emotions. If I was afraid of negative emotions my life would be quite difficult. I don’t like them but I recognize them as an inescapable part of life. Avoiding them at all costs means that you will miss out on things. You won’t be able to fully appreciate the wonderful feelings if you haven’t suffered through it’s opposite. And some of those things are pretty amazing. In my opinion, the best, most important thing that you will miss out on is relationships. Friendships, romance, relatives- taking part in any of these relationships opens you up the possibility of experiencing sadness, anger, disappointment, even hate. I love my family dearly but there are still times where I have been driven to tears of frustration trying to deal with them. Even my best friends have certain personality traits that make me want to strangle them with their own entrails. I’ve been terribly hurt by dear friends. The only way to successfully avoid the pain of relationships is to become a hermit. I’ve considered that option but each time I do, I ultimately discard it as untenable. If I chose hermitage for myself, I would miss out on all the delight and joy relationships can bring. I would also miss out on the pain. Even though pain sucks, if you’re smart, you’ll learn from it and in the future use that knowledge for good. In many ways, failure and pain are more powerful teachers than success and happiness.
Love, by nature, requires huge risks. The biggest risk is the emotional one. When you bare your entire self, you risk someone seeing that tendency to go to extremes as a bad thing and they take off in the other direction at high speed, leaving you vulnerable and hurt. You always thought that your gift for going to the extremes as just that, a gift. You see it as an integral part of your life and you can’t imagine living a gentler existence. But that, friend, lover, or family member sees it as the deal breaker.
Everything in life is a risk. Many of those risks lead to things that are, at best, so-so. Waking up in the morning, you risk experiencing a bad day. Getting into a car, you risk injury or even death. And before you cry that those aren’t risks, that’s life- my point exactly. Life consists of risk after risk after risk. Risks are the building blocks that make up life. Some are big, others are small. The bigger the risk, the more you stand to lose and the more you stand to gain. Risk baring your whole self to another person, allowing them the opportunity to hurt you, to know all the good and all the bad about you, and you stand to gain another person in your life whom you can turn to when it seems the entire universe is out to get you. You stand to gain someone who loves you because you are you and even though they see your tendency to pepper your speech with foreign languages and your ability to always push their buttons as frustrating and maddening, at the end of the day, when they look at you their hearts are filled with love and happiness and all that other shit is just what makes you a singular and lovable human being. In short, my advice is: take the fucking risks. Some are going to lead to some serious pain for you. Others are going to lead to a fuller and richer life. Risk the fear.
I’m sorry if this post is a repetition of an earlier one. If I have repeated myself, take it as a signal that this is an important topic, one you should take time to seriously consider.
Take the fucking risk.