To be honest, I am pretty tired of focusing on what keeps toppling over in society. Intolerance has crept into our beds like cold night air, and fear is throttling our hopes for the future.
I have floundered as I wait for someone else to take a bold stand and ‘shut the noise the f%&k up’. I have waited and waited and all the while my anxiety keeps rising.
Thankfully wisdom cuts through in many shapes, not always in the elderly, silver haired guise we expect. A few weeks ago I was watching football, with a friend and his friends. I was the obvious outsider, supported the wrong team and didn’t really know the others. We couldn’t only enjoy the game, the TV spectatorship invited a menu of topics to the fore. Many were light and flippant, but invariable the state of the world and our country sneaked in. Fear galloped through the room, and everyone was trying to beat the other with their story of gloom. It felt good to not be all alone. One of the crew wasn’t competing for a gap, he waited for the rant and doom fest to be done.
‘Stay with fear, and you will be trapped, if you focus on options you might be free’ he stated with confidence; ‘everything you see looks dangerous when we are in fear, why not look at all we have with appreciation and find the contentment we enjoy every day. Then make sure you have options.’
‘Um, exactly what we are talking about dude, facing the bleak reality here and talking about options’ barked another off the couch.
‘No, not those options. You only need to know what the options are when you have to face real danger, not when you are worrying about possible danger’
In a moment, he woke me up.
What he meant was best captured by the analogy of going to a movie house and spending the entire movie worried that the power might go off, or that someone might disrupt the viewing or that the person next to you might eat their popcorn too loudly. What he suggested was, when you arrive, do you know where the exit sign is, and once located, rather live in the moment and enjoy the movie to its fullest. If true danger emerges, which it rarely does, at least you know how to get away.
It had a profound impact on my emotional state. Everything in life feels a lot lighter since.
The fact is, we can be most courageous in the face of fear, but we can also choose to be better equipped when feelings of fear emerge. So when the world is filled with powerful men in children’s minds who are trying desperately to feel worthy, and along the way sowing seeds of fear and doubt, here are a few thoughts:
1. Be authentic. Say out loud what needs to be said and constantly find your truth. Have the tough conversations and be the voice that counters the rabid flow of fear.
2. Always seek to transform yourself. When it feels like the world will not conform to the reality you would like it to be, then develop and grow yourself to an even better version you desire.
3. Be reliable, and a source of security and stability to you and those around you. Be an oasis of calm and presence that others can trust in because trust is in low supply, and essential to all healthy relationships.
4. Have a dream and be aware of just what you desire. Aim high and be better today than you were yesterday. Don’t worry about others, just keep noting and celebrating all the ways in which you are growing.
In short, cultivate and nurture your own sense of self-worth. Build your personal acceptance and be a role model to others as an alternative to competing, controlling, approval seeking and dependence. As Stephen and Mara Klemich of Heartstyles have often shared, find courage through humility.
I meet people every day who are hyper vigilant to signals in their environment that danger is on the way. They become consumed and hopeless. I encourage you all to speak up, with humility and courage, and to focus more on the parts of the world that you can change today, right now.
Don’t be driven by fear, but by the desire to maximise our enjoyment of these precious lives we have. They whizz by faster than we realise.
That evening, after a jolting shift in my perspective, I savoured a game of football like never before and felt more curious about these strangers and their stories too. That is a life I want to live.