It Never Happened

Photo by Luiz Rogério Nunes on Unsplash

The conversation was inevitable. Tensions were high and coming to a head. The current path was no longer conducive for both of us to walk.

As with most everything else I do in my life, I visualize the way I think it will go down. Will I be able to keep my emotions in check? Can I stay calm? And if it comes to blows… Okay, maybe that is a little far, but one must be prepared, right?

Visualization turns to obsession. Obsession becomes neuroticism. Blood pressure rises in anticipation. Anticipation results in a loss of productivity, and then later, in a loss of sleep. And like many conversations I have imagined in the past, this one never happened.

I am an old man and I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.

Mark Twain

The fantasy I have created in my mind results in a reality of needless suffering. Anxiety for an unknown future is silly. Just like the good times, I have found a way to survive the bad times. Usually, I came out fine, maybe even a little stronger. Did I need to suffer in advance? Did the suffering change the event looming on the horizon? Did the event even happen? The answer is obvious and yet, I continue the same preposterous ritual of premature suffering.

The future has not arrived. I can prepare for the future by building my anxiety, running through countless possible scenarios, and then exacerbating the threat by giving it more attention than it deserves. Or I can prepare by doing the work required of me in the present moment. The activities of today demand my attention. The victories in the here and now are the stepping-stones that will see me through tomorrow. I cannot cross the bridge of the unknown until I arrive at the threshold.

He suffers more than is necessary, who suffers before it is necessary.

Seneca, Letter #98: On the Fickleness of Fortune

Twain and Seneca provide the proof that I am not the only one anxious about future events. There may even be a chance that we are in the same predicament. If so, then I implore you to turn to the present and let the events of tomorrow rest until they become the events of today. Prepare for tomorrow by attending to the work required of you today.

Courage 1/17/2019

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear -not absence of fear.

-Mark Twain

You can understand the fear, respect it, and get to know it. Just maybe, in time, it will not be so fearsome.

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The Virtue of Courage

Do you have the heart to forge ahead? Can you keep going even though your body and your mind wants you to stop? There are those who bend underneath the pressure, and then there are those who have the fortitude to continue standing. The heart of courage, a chief virtue of the soul.

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Resistance to Fear

The little girl on the stage standing in the bright lights waiting for the recital to begin.

The boy on the wrestling mat facing an unknown opponent.

The adult at the podium addressing the audience.

Stepping on the stage, in the ring, or in front of others can cause butterflies, nervousness, or make you outright scared.  But in these situations designed to test your abilities, your enemy is not the people watching. It is not even the opponent standing opposite you.

Who is the enemy? It is the fear within you. In order to succeed when the pressure is on, you must become resistant to that fear. The big stage is an examination of your preparation and training. The work has already been done. Now it is time to show your mastery.

Fear can be healthy. It would be fool hardy to jump with reckless abandon. Therefore, we train in advance and gradually increase our level of testing. Trust your training and learn to master your fear.