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.