I wrote this as a preface to a journal I gave someone shortly after I was first set out on my journey. She was someone I knew who seemed to be struggling with her life and who I thought might benefit from my own observations about how I saw the challenge of waiting for something to happen.
Obviously if we want something to happen, we improve our possibilities when we do something to contribute to creating what we imagine for ourselves, and whatever happens we still improve our experience of life and our ability to create with our experience.
What I am learning is to care about my experience, care to create my experience of life, care about myself, care about others, care about my world, and care about learning how to create with my experience, my creative resource, to contribute to creating the possibilities I imagine for myself, for my experience of the world, and my experience of community, – my feeling of connectedness and my reason for caring.
When we care about our experience we become more conscious of opportunities to explore, to experience, to learn, to create connections, and to contribute to and create enterprise around ideas which contribute to creating the experience we imagine for ourselves.
What I am learning now is to be clearer about my interests, what I care about, to be clearer about my intentions, what I am doing to contribute to my interests, and to be more conscious of my experience, the part I am playing in creating my experience, and the opportunities I can see to create with my experience.
Here is what I wrote
Life is a voyage of discovery, a journey, a never-ending learning experience. We set out on the path when we are young and left to our own devices. Some of us set out at a younger age than others, some of us with more advice on how to proceed and what to watch for, some of us with more companionship and support to help us on the way and see us over some of the rocky bits. Some of us have more of the guideposts and signs pointed out to us, some of us aren’t even told that there are guideposts and signs and end up missing them.
But the thing that makes the greatest difference in our ability to get up and get going, and enjoy the travel experience, and learn how to navigate the road successfully, lies in the amount of fear instilled in our hearts, – by misfortune we can’t understand because no one was there to comfort us, by abuse we can’t understand because there was no one to explain that it comes from sad and troubled people who feel unloved and are unable to love themselves or others, – by failures we can’t understand because there was no one to explain that failure is how we learn and grow and become stronger.
And fears grow when we don’t understand that they are natural and powerful defenses and warning signals, – that we should pay attention to them, feel them, and acknowledge them, – that they help keep us safe. Fear is one of our friends, if we recognize it as a warning signal, a guidepost. Fear can help show us the way, – as long as we understand it.
But fear can become our enemy. It can be debilitating and destructive. It can destroy our ability to act. It can destroy our ability to travel down the road. To discover. To experience. To open our senses. To come to know who we are. To learn what we are capable of. To learn what incredible and exciting gifts we have. To feel.
And the feelings we experience! Where do they come from. And why would we be afraid of them. We can hide from them if we want. We can bury them. Push them away. Try to rid ourselves of them. But why would we.
The more we allow ourselves to feel, the bigger our feelings grow. Feelings are not only the most rewarding and richest experience of being alive, they are what being alive is all about. Experiencing our feelings. Wow. That’s want we travel for. That’s why we travel.
And the good traveler, the traveler that gets the most from the experience, is the traveler who knows that the rewards are in enjoying this incredible journey we are on, getting on down the road, – not waiting for something to happen, making something happen for ourselves.
But then there is fear. Fear of what will happen to us. And even worse, fear of what will happen if we do something. Because doing something means taking a risk. We’re not even sure what we are risking. Maybe everything. We risk making a mistake. We risk failure, we risk embarrassment, we risk being hurt. We risk losing something. We risk feeling bad. At the end of the day, it all comes down to risking feeling bad.
Well I’m learning that the people who really feel bad are the ones sitting on the side of the road, leaving themselves behind on their own journey. And the people I see with a spring in their step and joy in their faces are the ones who are trucking on down the road, open to everything, keen to enjoy every person, every place, every experience, every feeling that life offers, – the good parts and the bad parts, – including those “bad” parts. Those “bad” feelings that let us know we are alive, that we care, that we care about ourselves and care about others.
If you ask people why they are sitting on the side of the road instead of getting on with their life, they almost always have a lot of reasons. A lot of things to blame. There aren’t any signposts to tell them which way to go. Nobody ever gave them guidance or help except those who didn’t know anything. Other people seem to have maps, that’s why they’re not afraid. Other people are stronger. Other people are smarter. Other people know more. And they end up feeling really bad about the people passing by, having a good time, alive, excited, learning more.
Because when we are on the road, even when we are only taking small cautious steps as we get the hang of it, we soon start to move along with the same energy and excitement as other people who are living their lives. And we get to experience these people in a different way. We meet new people. They become our travelling companions, sometimes for short distances, sometimes for long. We always learn from them. And the more we learn, the more interesting people we meet and the more we learn again.
And we find ourselves in new places and new situations we’ve never been in or seen before. Experiencing and learning by being there, being part of it. Quite different from dreaming about it or watching somebody else do it. And most exciting, we find ourselves doing new things. Doing things we’ve never done before. Learning how to do things we’ve never done before.
And finally, we find ourselves feeling new things, having feelings we’ve never had before. And sure, some of those feelings are feeling we thought we wanted to avoid. But it turns out that all feelings are worth having. In fact, feelings let us know that we’re alive. The thing we fear most is the thing most worth having. The thing we fear is the thing that gives us the greatest rewards in our lives. Our feelings.
And our feelings grow. They grow beautifully. They grow until they become concentrated, scrumptiously delicious joy. Including those feelings of sadness, loss, and grief. And eventually those debilitating feelings of anger and blame become understood and disappear.
And the biggest and best feeling of joy that you ever experience is when you are able to reach out and touch someone, help someone, leave a little something behind, – a signpost, – an opportunity to learn. And one of the things I have learned is that I can’t teach anybody. We can’t teach anybody. People learn. They have the power. We can help them learn how to learn, but we can’t teach them how to learn.
But one thing we must all learn. That to learn we must care. Care about ourselves. Care about others. Care about learning. Care about taking responsibility for our life. And there is one ting we must do to be able to learn. Face our fears and overcome them. For the thing I am learning is that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
Learning how to live free of fear is the most important thing of all. For then we can learn how to learn, how to love unconditionally, and how to give the gift of love to others.