On September 15, 2015
This photo was possible after an enormously generous person with absolutely no ulterior motive and a very big truck pulled my camper to its final destination. I am incomprehensibly grateful.
Day 42: I was so wrong about “managing fear”.
All this time, I thought that “managing fear” meant “controlling fear”, “decreasing the size of fear”, “keeping fear corralled”. Well, this is really hard, if not impossible, to do, and I never made much progress at it. Because, emotions are really deep inside, in the old, dark parts of our brains, and they do their own thing, and really, the conscious mind doesn’t have much of a say.
What I finally learned I can do is “change my relationship to fear” and “choose how to react to fear”.
Changing my relationship to fear. Not fearing it. Not buying into it. Not fighting it. Not indulging. Letting it be there, but not allowing it to make decisions for me. No kidding, this is still hard. But allowing something to exist in space, but not make it the focus, is a lot easier and a lot less exhausting than the endless resistance fight. And, it’s something I can practice in incremental portions, let it be for a few seconds before I resist. Let it be for a minute… and during that letting be, more often than not, it loses some of its power.
The second part of this relationship is cultural. I live in a culture far away from jungles full of tigers, and fear is considered something negative, that shows I am weak, spineless, cowardly, and even stupid. Being afraid is thus morally wrong. That doesn’t help. Awareness of this view does…a little.
Choosing how to react to fear. When I am not totally consumed, I can choose to do something that I am afraid of, such as putting a story up for all to see, or accept help, or do something for its reward, even if I have too much fear to enjoy the process. And it gets a little bit easier every time, because desensitization works.
So what about freezing up when that deer crosses the road as I am cruising down the highway? There are monks that are never startled, because they have no expectation of what’s supposed to come next. And since fear is triggered from expectation of something dangerous and negative, well, no expectation, no fear. Not having expectation happens when I am completely in the moment. It happens randomly, when I get into “the zone” sometimes. The great news is that this is a skill, and skill I can learn. Even if it takes ten thousand hours.
Day 19: Money. The dirty word. And the big fat lie. "Money does not make you happy." The first response may be, "but it allows you to get goods and services that do. The fresh warm bread on your table. The shelter for the night. A visit to the doctor." At the second level, money itself is a safety net. Not everyone has family. It's your buffer between home and a government-run nursery home. Independence. The ability to help others. In the biggest picture, nothing can "make" you happy; it's a View and it can be learned and practiced from any external situation. But in the world we have made for ourselves, money is the currency for pretty much everything else.