Learning not to be afraid

April 20th, 2015, 12pm

Recently I’ve had this image pictured over and over in my head. I remember talking with my dad about us going to Spain so he could work on his PhD. I was begging him to go and he was the resisting one. In the end it didn’t happen

I choose to forget, for a brief second, that I know how the conversation ends and that I also choose to forget, even for a shorter instant, that it was that moment that began to sour my relationship with him.

I’ve always contrasted my mom and my dad. And I’ve always identified myself with my mom. I’ve always identified my drive as having learned it from my mom and how hard she worked for the past… forever to keep me fed and keep me happy.

We are lucky if we can look back and identify those key moments where your life changed. I was doubly lucky because I was able to see them as they were happening. I don’t think I will ever forget how terrified I was when my mom had her accident and how much I owe my friends for pulling my ass of that particular fire or how much it frightened me to see my mom in the ICU with all the wires, probes, prods and assorted shit coming in and out of her. It doesn’t matter that it was 25 years ago, I still remember and it still scares the shit out of me. I always remember that, when my mom was debating whether to come to the US back in early ‘92, people were surprised when I was all supportive for my mom to come to the US even though I knew how hard it was going to be (it was about 400 times worst but that’s another story) I wanted to be selfish and wanted her to do it because it benefited me in the long run

what is fear?

I’ve heard just about every platitude about fear and I’m sick of hearing them. There are two that come to mind without a ‘not again’.

The first one is a quote misattributed to Nelson Mandela, actually from Marianne Williamson. Regardless who’s it from it challenges all my assumptions about what my fears really are and what to do about them. It’s a good question, really: Who are we not to shine our light to the world

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Marianne Williamson - A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles

The second one is actually from Mandela. It’s the simples essence of what living should be all about. Life is not about being afraid and whining for hat you lack but living fully, living well and being thankful for what you do have and not being afraid to challenge and question and oppose those things that you believe are wrong.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.

Nelson Mandela

what are you afraid of?

At this stage I’m afraid of failing; of my best not being good enough.

Intellectually I understand that fear of failure is a real oxymoron because you’re never guaranteed success and your best may not be what others were looking for.

But emotionally it’s still too much of my dad. It’s too much of his not trying because you fear failure or too much of having been hurt in the past and not wanting to go through that again.

On a personal level I’m afraid not to do what I’ve set out to do… Same deal different environment, the intellectual versus emotional divide. But in the personal front it’s somewhat easier since I’m the one driving most/all the decisions and I’m the one who has to deal with the result and consequences.

Why it no longer matters?

One thing I tend to forget:

We don’t beat the reaper by living longer, but by living well, and living fully — for the reaper will come for all of us. The question is: what do we do between the time we’re born and the time he shows up.

Randy Pausch

Turning 40 certainly changes your view of the world. This last portion of Admiral McRaven’s commencement speech at UT sums up pretty well where I want to go moving forward:

Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often, but if take you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up—if you do these things, then next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today and—what started here will indeed have changed the world—for the better

Admiral William McRaven’s commencement at UT

I used to laugh at those who are older than me. Growing up I was always thought I’d have more time to do things and that I could postpone, delay, change my mind and that things wouldn’t change much, I would do it by the time I was 30 instead of 20 and everything would be ok.

Turning 40 has changed that for me. You’re playing the second half of your life and don’t really have much time to postpone or demure about doing anything… you may have another 50+ years or you may have 20 or 10 or 5 or even 1. Dad was 57 when he passed away.

But even if he had been 90 he was still guaranteed a visit from the reaper and, for the first time, I’m at peace with that. Not afraid because that has never been a factor… if it’s your time to go then it’s time to go and nothing you can do or say will change that. This portion of Steve Job’s commencement speech at Stanford reminded me of this:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

Not taking anything for granted

Like Steve Schalchlin (from WDS 2013) says, we’re all living in the bonus round. Maybe not because we dodged the AIDS bullet like Steve did but we’ve all been given a finite supply of days to spend on this earth and we’re not told how many days are in our little bag of remaining days.

I want to have the courage to be crazy and be different. This TED video reminds me of that. It reminds me both about the power of technology and the limitless potential of the human being.

I’ve always liked Baden Powell’s quote about leaving the world a little better than we found it. I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how big or how little the deed is, it always makes a huge difference in someone’s life… I know because I’ve been the giver and the recipient of such kindness.

”I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult.”

– E. B. White

What I don’t want

I don’t want regrets. When the time comes I don’t want to be the one saying ‘I wish I had done that’ or ‘I wish I hadn’t done that’. Like they say in Chile ‘a lo hecho, pecho’; meaning that if you did it or didn’t do it then you own doing it or not doing it. You don’t blame others or the lack of money or the busyness of your life. You own your doings and your not doings, the successes and the failures.

If I’m architecting my life I want to make sure that it’s something I can be proud of.

Our life is a chance to architect the way we are remembered. #wds2014 #fb — Stevie Rocco (@stevier) July 13, 2014

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Carlos Araya

40-something Chilean transplant to the US for now over 20 years (can't believe it's been that long...) Ebook designer Instructional designer and trainer Triathlete in progress Sushi lover Beer snob

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