Are you Afraid?
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. ~ Mark Twain
So my time at work is winding down, I actually have about 24 work days remaining before my next big adventure begins. As such a couple of things have been consistently happening, the first has really annoyed the hell out of me. I’ve had a number of instances where people have started talking to me about something work related and then they stop and say, “oh wait, you don’t care.”
You don’t care
The reason this makes me angry is because obviously these people have no idea who I am as a person. I’ve been busting my ass not only to wrap up everything I can at work, but to actually leave the position in a much better place than I inherited it. I’m leaving behind fully reconciled budgets, transition plans, a dean’s training manual and am actually completing work in advance that doesn’t even need to be done until late August. This has meant a lot of extra weekend hours to get this done.
So when someone says, “oh you don’t care,” I think they are telling me a lot about who they would be in my situation, not commenting on who I am. So, it shouldn’t bother me but honestly it really gets under my skin. I guess it’s part of being a blue-collar kid, I am someone who takes pride in their work and works really hard. I remember at my first professional job, I worked for a consulting firm and about a month into the job while I was working late one night the Vice President came into my office and sat down. He looked at me and said, “you broke me.” I laughed and looked confused and he told me that he believed that he should always be the last person to leave the office, that he should outwork any of his employees but that I’d broke him, he couldn’t outwork me and he was going home.
I used to be incredibly proud of that moment, and to a degree I still am. Since that day over 25 years ago I’ve learned a lot about life and work balance. I don’t work like a dog anymore but I still work hard, just much more efficiently and intelligently. So that pride I have gets a little wounded when people question it. The second question I’ve been getting a lot lately is are you afraid?
Are you afraid?
This question comes in a number of different forms, are you afraid or nervous about: not having a job; moving to Mexico; not having insurance; not having anyplace to live, etc…. All of these questions again, tell me more about the person asking than they do about who I am. Am I afraid, no. Nervous? Only in an excited way. Going through my recent health issue, it looks like things are all good, put a small delay on me doing some of the planning. But this weekend I’ve mapped out the dates, places, found an apartment in Oaxaca, looked at airline flights. At my apartment I’m back to organizing and packing my stuff creating plans. I still have to finalize where I’m going leave my car so that I know what airport I’m flying out of so I can book flights. So am I afraid? No, but finally now that it’s getting closer I’m getting really excited. I’ve been working on my Spanish skills for over a month now and feel ok about being able to get around once I’m in Mexico.
My big adventure is coming, it’s not a time for fear but excitement. I will be pushing a bit out of my comfort zone in the sense that I’m purposely not doing some planning. I’m not the adrenaline junky people might think I would be given the things I do. I’m someone who does a lot of research and planning, I’m most comfortable when I have a pretty good idea what’s going to happen. I’m perfectly good with spontaneity within the plan as long as the overall structure has been set. On my next adventure I’m planning for a lot more spontaneity than I normally do. Which ironically means doing less planning, but being who I am, it still means a ton of research.
As my next adventure moves forward it will get less and less planned. Mexico at least on the first pass is well planned. Peru, for the three weeks or so I will be there is planned for about 10 days, I’ll be winging the rest. Mexico on the next pass will be set as far as when I arrive and where I’m going to stay. Back stateside in the US in December and January will start a full on period of wandering. Leading up to February and when I plan to head to Spain and Morocco and where I’m planning to not plan anything past an airline flight into Spain and my first two nights hotel. Moving around Spain for a couple of weeks, where I’m going before wandering to Gibraltar, taking the ferry to Tangiers, where I’m staying in Morocco, what I’m doing there will all be done on the fly. A totally new type of travel gig for me and I can’t wait. Will there be fear, sure but I’ll let Frank Herbert address how I’ve come to think about fear:
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain. ~ Frank Herbert, Dune
We all experience fear, that’s perfectly natural, but what is important is how we respond to the fear. Just like life in general, it’s not what happens but how we respond that makes all of the difference. When I first read Frank Herbert’s novel Dune and got to that passage on fear I thought it was the wisest thing I’d ever read, in many ways I still do. It as colored my own response to fear since then and yes, I have literally repeated that passage in my head in times of fear. So my friends, don’t let fear kill your happiness, fear is a liar, what matters is what is beyond the fear. I think one of the saddest things I can imagine is someone missing out on something really amazing just because they were afraid. Don’t do that and have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane