Fear is the Mind Killer

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September 30, 2004 at 12:53 pm

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{stolen from a post I just wrote on a password-protected blog I follow. The impetus was a recurring theme about the person’s fear of flying, which itself is okay — I guess (I personally think it’s overcome-able, with patience and education). But when that fear keeps you from doing things you WANT TO DO, like take an unexpected trip or see something you’ve always wanted to see, well then, that’s just wrong.}

Here’s my personal life statement. Do with it what you will (it may not work for you, but I used to not do a lot of things out of fear of “what might happen”):

Don’t let your FEARS stand in the way of enjoying your LIFE.

When I met my husband in ‘88, I doubt you could have *paid* me to climb into a single-engine aircraft. I’d only been on one commercial jet flight, and that was right after a major airline crash (so despite my being 13 and on the plane alone at the time, the people behind me spent the WHOLE FLIGHT debating how likely another plane might crash soon… it’s like our culture almost THRIVES on fear. We make TV shows about it, for chrissakes!)

Anyway. On my deathbed, or with my last breath or last thought, I want to know that I did the very best I could to enjoy my life and help those around me enjoy their lives. If that means that I get run over by a stampeding horse someday while hiking on a quiet Texas trail, so-be-it. If that means a mysterious flock of birds swarms me, pecks me alive and sends me into a coma while I’m out birdwatching for hours on the Texas coast, so-be-it.

I understand having kids changes it a little, but it’s really still very simple. Don’t let your FEARS stand in the way of *their* LIVES is what the saying graduates to…

Otherwise, it’s all just a footnote on your life of “What Might Have Been…” or “If Only…”

One of the saddest things in life, to me, is missed opportunities. Not silly things like “I could’ve been a rock star, if…” (I couldn’t have, for the record)

but things like “I wonder what it would have been like to go on that trip …” or “I wonder what it would have been like to pursue that interest I’ve been harboring quietly for years…” or whatnot.

Am I a perfect student of my own philosophy? Heck no! I have fears. Oddly enough, one of my biggest is driving. It’s taken until now (age 30) for me to feel comfortable behind the wheel. Hell, I didn’t even get my license until I was 18 because I was so deathly afraid of the driver’s test! I’ve never been in an accident or ticketed, but in high school there was a string of auto deaths of people in my class and that coupled with a minor accident my mother had with us (as children) in the car, and several serious accidents my younger brother had in his early teens. That, and of course the dreaded Driver’s Ed “education video” of maimed drivers, did me in. I still dislike driving, but there are actually days now I will get in the car and “go for a drive” to relax… that would’ve been unheard of several years ago.

Repeat after me:

FEAR is the mind-killer.

— Added after my post on the other blog:

FEAR is the drug we use to avoid facing new, challenging or potentially difficult situations. COURAGE and FAITH are what we use to overcome fear and ultimately triumph over it and ENJOY LIFE.

If someone gave me a paid ticket to do an introductory sky dive (I’ve never jumped out of a perfectly good aircraft… or been in one in any serious trouble, for that matter), you know what? I’d … JUMP … at the chance.

If the chute didn’t deploy, how is that any different than if your vehicle’s brakes fail or some drunk driver decides his path and yours are destined to collide as you’re making your way home after a long day at work?

How is fear useful in these situations? AWARENESS of RISK certainly is. I’ve told Justin I won’t fly with him on one or two occasions because I “got a feeling” when an aircraft failed to start as smoothly or easily as it should — my rational mind knows that once the battery and starter gets the propeller going, it’s good to go and will recharge the battery. But it’s the same thing as deciding not to ride a rollercoaster when you’re feeling a little quesy from too much food, or deciding NOT to leave at rush hour on a long, cross-country trip.

It’s managing risks that people need to focus on, and let fear remain where it belongs — in movies and ghost stories.

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3 Comments

October 7, 2004

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Shan,

Actually, I’m not sure you would ever have drive, if Justin hadn’t been your teacher

“Funny” thing about age and memory….which accident did I find myself i with both of you in the car????

October 7, 2004

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Ummmmm…that should have read “driven”!!

October 7, 2004

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Actually, I think it was a near-accident. That, or the passage of time has led me to see and feel an accident that only you and Thomas were in?

The one I’m remembering was in your old Reliant as we drove in Braun Station, a little ways before reaching the elementary and middle schools there. Ring a bell?

If not, I *told you* I was losing it lately…

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