As a society, we are obsessed with change -- changing ourselves and others. Just look at the hundreds of blog posts, articles and infomercials touting all sorts of advice on how to live a better, happier, sexier or richer life.
I find myself grappling more and more with the prospect of death. Mine, yours, his, hers, all of ours, in this land of over 50. To tell you the truth I should say, the land of late sixties, because that's where I am now.
We have all done it. We try to say something that is helpful and reassuring. We try to say something that will take away someone's fears or doubts. The problem is it usually doesn't work. And sometimes reassurance does the exact opposite of what we intend.
I wanted to reflect on the events of the past five years of my life, which masked themselves as "distractions," and send a letter directly to what has kept me from succeeding all along: fear. Fear is one of the biggest obstacles that any of us will ever face.
The fear behind us? It's the fear that we will die without living life at all. We won't love the way we should, we won't work at the job we want, and we will just accept what comes to us as though we have no choice. That is by far my greatest fear.
This kind of "psychological courage" is essential to our health and happiness because it allows us to face up to our lives. To acknowledge and even confront the addictions and lies, fears and mistakes we make so that we can move into them and beyond them.
We are often focused on consequences right now. Thinking of how something will impact us beyond the present moment helps put the risk into perspective. Many times you will find that a setback won't matter a year from now -- or even next week. So why not take a chance?
Paying taxes forces people to review earnings and expenses and can highlight their money woes. It can also lead to a feeling of powerlessness. No one likes to be told what to do, especially when it comes to their hard-earned money.
If you suppress a goal you really want to achieve out of fear, it can create added stress. I have learned through much trial and error to take the risk. Here are some of the ways I have learned to move forward -- despite my fears.
Fear loses its power when you prepare yourself to meet it head-on. If you walked out onto a stage without preparing for a speech, of course you would be scared! But if you walk onto a stage after preparing -- practicing your lines and learning your craft -- the fear won't be quite as strong.
I need to feel safe, open, and confident that all people's hard work will make a positive contribution and a difference in the world. What, then, is my next step? I will feel the anger and be fearless anyway.
Now, I knew, knew, knew that I could ride the trail much better than I was. Yet I could not. I knew, knew, knew that the fear was in my head and if I could just let it dissipate, then all would be well. Easier said than done.
When I arrived at Kalani, I was trying desperately to integrate what I'd learned at the monastery into everyday life, and I felt like I was failing. I was stuck between worlds. I needed a bridge, a translator, a medium.