I didn’t realize how much fear controlled my life until I started getting serious about meditation again – in the few moments I was able to stay present I was quickly grasped by this insatiable void in the pit of my stomach – so heavy, so deep, and so profound. As I continued my practice I soon realized that this void was the heaviness of fear in my life.
Whether I choose to meditate or not I now know that the grip of fear is weighing me down. There are a million reasons why I feel fear – but most of the fear is generated by thoughts/worries about the future. It is generated through projections of how my life might turn out, what work I will do, how much I will make, what will I contribute to society, etc. – an endless stream of thoughts about the future.
The fear grips me when I think about changing the status quo and doing something different – my mind doesn’t like different, it is conditioned by my experiences, beliefs, and values instilled throughout my life. Therefore, doing something different isn’t a simple decision, it is a courageous feat against the tidal wave of conditioning – growing in size and complexity by each year I age.
However, I’m grounded by reflecting on life and the impermanence that pervades everything. Realizing that death is the common end that we all share on this planet – and not knowing when it can come and how it will manifest is humbling and a confidence building exercise. Just reading through current events of people dying due to the hurricane in the Philippines or being killed due to political strife in South Sudan, it is clear that death does not discriminate between the old and young.
Death is the heaviest topic – and fear is no match for it. Fear dissipates in the face of death, and through observing people who are older who seem “stubborn” or “stuck in their ways” what is clear to me is that they don’t care – they don’t care about what others think in the way I constantly care what others think. With the imminence of death – they are freer to live a life free of fear – as death renders fear useless.
The question is why wait til old age and the imminence of death to free yourself. 24 hours today is the same as 24 hours as an 80 year old – but I know that I will value the 24 hours when I’m 80 much more than I value 24 hours today – since when I’m 80 I know death is around the corner, whereas now I can hide under the naive immortality complex of a guy in his 20s not having to concern myself with the idea of death and being old.
But what if I actually followed through on what Steve Jobs once said – “Live each day as if it was your last” – what if I woke up every morning and lived the day as if I would die at the stroke of midnight – what would I do differently?
I’m usually not one for new years resolutions, but in the spirit of making a fresh start – here is to living a year authentic to who you are, to living each day as if it were your last, and to being courageous in the face of fear.