I was lying in bed early this morning after waking up from a strange nightmare. Something about pulling papers out of a confidential file that I wasn’t supposed to access. I ended up with some terrible lung disease as a result and was dying slowly. I woke up feeling terrified which slowly melted into a feeling of relief, and then into a feeling of the unlimited possibilities I could still partake of in my future, even though the future doesn’t really exist. My future is finite, but unknown and therefore full of possibilities.
I have throughout most of my life limited my goals to those that seemed reasonably achievable. But, what if I just took the lid off the possibilities? Now of course there are many things I do not want to do or cannot change. But I have accomplished some amazing things even when I was battling depression and strange addictions. I was able to complete my BA while working almost full time and supporting my wife in taking care of our first infant. So I know that I can work through obstacles.
Somewhere along the way I lost track of the drive that allowed me to take on immense challenges. I think it had to do with raising children and making sure I didn’t ignore their needs as well as being available to support my wife emotionally. I wasn’t going to be an absent father. I have also struggled with depression and made some career decisions which did not fit with my philosophy which caused me to play it safe instead of taking on challenging tasks.
I am now developing a list of behaviors I need to foster in myself in order to move forward in my life in a free and positive manner, to be open to opportunities and possibilities without fear of failure.
1. I need to examine my daily habits, detect behaviors that inhibit me from learning, deteriorate my physical health, and put up walls between me and people and the world. These include obsessions and habits and relying on comfort zone formulations of reality (denial).
2. I need to take more positive risks, not jumping of cliffs, but reaching out into a positive view of the future with my imagination and committing my time and energy to make these ideas into real plans, and finally into a present reality. I have put too many imaginary limitations on what I can achieve. I think probably I take just as many risks by passing up opportunities as I would in taking them on. Life is a risky business no matter how much I dress it up in these images of safety and comfort. Some of the most satisfying moments in my life, ones I look back on with awe and inspiration, are the ones were I was uncomfortable doing something that seemed very risky at the time.
3. I need to learn how to fail again. Humans learn through practice, and practice means failing before ultimately succeeding. I need to extend myself into the zone of uncertainty in order to learn new skills. I need to practice and therefore I need to be able to accept and learn from failures. I have not put myself in those positions lately. I play it safe and therefore am stagnant. I will fail and struggle and succeed, or maybe not. I will land somewhere and figure out the next step from there.
Life is not safe. Failure or success is not an end as long as I am alive. Stagnation is just as risky as change. The world is changing around me. I am dying all the time I am alive. I will be living as I am dying. I have an imagination and a healthy mind and body that is all I need to leap into the present with a vision of the future.