Fear.

A cosmic couple

Here we see the spectacular cosmic pairing of the star Hen 2-427: Source: http://www.nasa.gov

 

Our general anxiety that we feel as our lives unfold seems to stem from this deep sense of fear about the future. We ruminate about what might happen, what has happened and what could happen. What if our loved ones get hurt? What if they hurt us? Are we really supposed to be successful or will we end up failing at the one life that we get?

We ask ourselves these questions constantly, and fill our minds with doubt. To me, it seems like everyone is constantly afraid of the change in their lives that will inevitably occur. It’s been said that the only constant in life is change, but we’re scared of change. So we end up constantly being scared.

There seems to be no real solution to this problem. We have inherited this fear from our ancestors, living a life of unimaginable uncertainty and danger. But we’re now living lives that are extremely safe by comparison. Our ancestors could deal with their fear because they used to worry about immediate problems.

When could they eat? Is that a dangerous animal? Where are they going to sleep that night?

The only advantage of having these dangers is that they are all real, immediate and can be solved. The problem is at least clear, and has an obvious outcome. Once a solution is found, the problem goes away, and the fear is expelled.

Yet, we fuel our minds with thoughts of things going badly. The media generates an unending stream of real and fictitious problems, and at this point we’re so heavily connected to the media that we can’t stop it from exposing us to potential dangers that may never actualize. We view images of people suffering and hear about the fragility of civilization, while at the same time it’s expected of us to simply go about our lives as if these issues were not brought to the center of our consciousness.

This sort of general fear is paralyzing, and completely removes the joy that life can provide. Sometimes, it appears that intelligent people suffer from anxiety the most. It’s those people who notice how utterly powerless they are at controlling all the variables in their life. They can’t trust that “things will work out” because they are not under the illusion that all is well. All is most definitely not well. There are people, very similar to you and me, who are experiencing pain and suffering that we can only begin to imagine.

Yet, here we are, worrying about our own small little problems. Oh, that girl rejected you? Are you having issues with your friend? Oh woe is me.

But these problems are in fact important. They are significant to our lives, the only life that we can live. It’s difficult to always keep a broad perspective while at the same time focus on improving the lives we lead ourselves.

Sometimes, shutting out the world is not an act of isolation, but a form of healing. We need to recover from the constant information that we are overloaded with. Once we have recovered, then we can stand up again, walk outside and look at the world for all that it is. Its disgusting, confusing, dark side as well as its most profound, completely euphoric  and mesmerizing nature. We can get both horrified by the lion eating the gazelle as well as appreciate its majestic power.

We can look at death as this completely traumatic event, where loved ones are taken away from us, but also as this release of life into the void. This completely and utterly natural event, as natural as happiness, sadness and every emotional state in-between.

We should find the power to look at the worst case scenario, our greatest fear, and stare at it. Really look at it in detail. See every speck of horror that it produces and then smile. Smile because it can’t get worse than that, we can finally deal with it now. We can finally just accept it as a possibility and move on. We can now relax, because we’ve faced the worst case scenario. We’ve faced death himself, and are now one of his allies.

Fear then becomes something  non-existent, a silly little idea that we used to worry about. A childish idea, like the monster under the bed, or some other vague childhood memory that we can barely remember.

Nothing Lasts.

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Small Open star cluster Pismis 24. Source: hubblesite.org

These happen to be the truest words that I know of. Terence Mckenna brought them to my attention when he mentioned them in one of his lectures (listen to the short version here ).

“You want to know a psychedelic truth, you know, thirty years of psychedelic voyaging, I can distill it for you,  this is not a psychedelic truth, this is truth.

Here it is – you can learn this from drugs, you can learn it from life, you can learn it from death, you can learn it anyway you like, but by god you will learn it.

Nothing lasts. Nothing lasts…not your enemies, not your friends, not your youth, not your dreams not your fears, not your hope, not even yourself. Nothing lasts.  

Now this has been said often, but has been felt rarely, Heraclitus  said “Panta Rhei ” – all flows. Nothing lasts… “

From this simple fact we can extrapolate into our lives and see which concepts gets destroyed and which stay intact. Since nothing lasts, it is completely ridiculous to feel anxious, because it implies that we’re in control. That by anticipating and worrying about the future, we might somehow keep things from going one direction or the other. But we’re really not in control. Whatever we have control over is so minuscule to the forces that nature demonstrates, that it becomes almost comical how futile our struggle for control is.

Letting go of control allows us to feel so relieved because we can finally just accept whatever reality is that we find ourselves in. We stop trying to fix it and just let it be. It is in those moments that we think “Fuck it, whatever, who really gives a shit”.

It doesn’t even have to be during some profound moment. It could come at any time. When we are having a particularly hard day, or when we’re failing at becoming who we aspire to be. When we find ourselves lost in the abyss of rejection, self-doubt and fear.

We might feel like we’re being submerged in murky waters, where confusion reigns and we don’t know which direction to take and how much energy to put into that final push for air. Maybe it’s better not to take that final push. We start considering the alternative as a realistic possibility.

It doesn’t have to be some life or death situation though. It could be simply giving up on an ideal that we have held ourselves to. It could be the acceptance of the end of a relationship or a side of us that we have clung onto for far too long.

Yes, nothing lasts. Ironically that will always be true. In that statement we see the paradox of living. What we call a living organism is just matter changing forms. There is no purpose to life. The purpose of an organism isn’t to survive and reproduce. That is a misunderstanding or a lie. Living organisms aren’t choosing to live. They just do. They don’t have a purpose. We humans form our ideas about having a purpose after the fact that we become alive.

It’s like we are trying to rationalize living. We don’t need to justify our existence, or the lack of it. It’s like asking a cat to justify its use of time. It presumably doesn’t care what the purpose of its life is, it just lives.

That’s what humans struggle to come to grips with the most. The acceptance of simply being an animal. Of just being this weak, two legged, weird, awkward creature. Our fellow earthlings seem to inherently accept this, while it is lost on us. We have work on  developing the acceptance of our inevitable end. They don’t appear to give it much thought. This makes us jealous. If only we could accept the present moment in its fullest, then we would actually be living. Instead we’re just thinking about living.

What happens when proverbial shit finally hits the fan? World War III, the zombie apocalypse, or more likely, us just fucking the planet through global warming. Well, that won’t last either.

Fuck it, let it happen. Let everything that can go wrong, actually go wrong. At least that way we realize the futility of worrying about it all going wrong.

Chances are though, it won’t be that bad. But on a more individual level, shit can go completely wrong in our simple, small, little lives. You lose that dream job, that lover, that wife. You may lose all your money, family and friends.

But you know why it’ll be fine? Because you already knew that was going to happen at some point. Nothing lasts…remember? Since nothing lasts, then nothing bad will always be bad. Death is not that bad when you’re the one that’s dead. That broken heart will heal and you’ll move on. That feeling of emptiness when missing someone is also going to be dragged away from you, one small painful increment at a time, until there is nothing. And that will last.

Nothing lasts.