Forgive me if this seems a preachy post. It is part confessional, as everything mentioned here are things I struggle with, so it’s not as if I am spouting some dark judgment upon the rest of the world from some lofty superior position of perfection. But we can’t get past our faults if we’re too afraid to even look them in the eye.
This is obviously not a conclusive list, but it’s what comes to mind at the moment. You’ll probably also notice that they’re all related to each other in some way.
Ah, the smell of a new book! A new blu-ray! Ah, too look upon my collection of books on the bookshelf! Perhaps small compared to many others, but much more than most people who’ve ever lived ever had. Oh, but I would like more! Yes, my Amazon wishlist is bountiful. And when I see pictures of laptops and gadgets and huge-screen TVs, how my mind doth dream. And, when I get really daydreamy, how attractive those mansion photos seem. Ah, to live in luxury!
But such desires can never be fulfilled. There will always be something else. And when I am lost in a daydream, a daydream of pure desire, I am gone from the moment. I cannot deal with what is now, and I paint it all black, as if the now is dreadful darkness undeserving of my mental presence. I ignore my present fortune, especially my very existence in the first place. I make them worthless to me.
Solution: I’m sure I’ll still buy stuff. And I’m sure daydreams will still creep into my mind when I’m not paying attention. But no more entertaining them. No more getting lost in them. It is rotten.
Caring too much about self-image and worldly success
I must be a better person. I must be successful. The world already told me that that is the best thing to be. “You’ll go far!” they told me. “You’re talented! You’ll be something! You’ve got gifts! You’ll be rich!” They told me I was creative! “Remember us when your famous!” they said with a smile.
What do they want me to do? Actually become famous? Make tons of money? Win a prestigious award? Were they just mocking me? If they don’t really want me to want that stuff, why do they glorify it? Why do they make me feel as if that’s what I must achieve to be “successful” to them?
Wikipedia doesn’t have a page on me yet. I guess I’m not successful. And if I’m not successful, I guess I’m not “worthy” yet. Worthy of what? The love of the world? The love and respect of even myself? I must do some specific something to be worth something to myself? I must have some great honor of wealth or fame bestowed upon me from smiling approving older people? I must have been places and have known famous people? I must have interesting things to say on social occasions?
I must achieve something, hurry! I must hurry up with writing that book! I must consume all books and media I see that look half-interesting! I must be an expert on something! I must have other people say about me, “Yes, that guy is smart!” Every moment I should be working on something, working towards some goal, and every moment that I’m not, I should be ashamed of myself for having wasted time! I must treat myself harshly, and stress myself out.
Solution: The world was wrong. They burdened me with their own daydreams, and I thought they were worth carrying. I thought if I could give them what they wanted, I’d become something greater in their eyes, as if they had something else to offer, a gift of some greater love they were holding back on until I proved myself worthy. I held it back from even myself. But they were wrong. I don’t have to do anything. I don’t have to be a millionaire, I don’t have to become famous, I don’t have to win some award. I don’t have to write a book, or direct a movie, or make some great discovery. I don’t need a Wikipedia page. All those things will turn to dust in the end. Why burden myself with building the perfect snowmen when they will melt away? The love that’s worth the most to me is the love that’s offered completely free. Unearned. Otherwise it’s not a gift, and cannot be love.
Sure, there are the natural fears, the stimuli that make the heart beat faster. Heights, fights, bees, and pain. Pointy things coming at me fast.
But more deadly are the mental anxieties. Will I ever “make it”? Will I have everything I need, and not have to work too hard for anything ever again? Will I have enough money? Will the ones I love keep loving me? How do I fare in God’s eyes?
And death! Oh, to wake up in the darkness of the night, to feel my chest rise with my breath and to know the clock is ticking. Someday this body will decay. How will I die? Where will I go? What will I be?
Solution: “Why worry if you can do something about it; and why worry if you cannot do anything about it?” There is no logical reason to be afraid of anything. It is a complete waste of energy. Nothing is gained. Like the wrong of wanting stuff, being afraid depends upon being lost in destructive daydreams that do little more than paint the present moment in shades of black. What do I want that I should be so afraid of not getting anyway? Unfortunately, I’m going to worry. But no more entertaining the worries. Pray them away. I’m not going to ignore potential problems, or stop planning ahead. But no more getting lost in worse-case-scenario daydreams. It is now, and there are much more interesting things to think about now.