It was always coming to this.
The signs were all there: The events, the crazy revelations, the tide of history itself, all led up to this moment, these people in this place under these circumstances. Even the taste in the mouth and the smells in the air felt inevitable. It could only have come to this, and the time was now.
Only one choice was left: Step forward and do it, or turn away and run back to the life that waited back there, unalterably changed forever by events but nonetheless waiting.
Funny how it all felt inevitable, and yet there were choices every step of the way. This time all the right choices had been made, and here they all were as if it had fallen into place, and now the final choice presented itself.
They didn’t have to do it.
But they did.
Finally, they all took a deep breath, blew it out, and breathed in.
No one said a word, but you could feel the words in the air: “All right, let’s do this.”
And they stepped forward.
The world has never been the same.
“Jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down,” Bradbury said.
Ready – fire – aim.
In other words, get started and figure out where you’re going along the way. You do have a general idea of what you want to do, but you won’t get it done unless you start.
Michelangelo is said to have said he saw David in the stone before he started. But the stone must have had some surprises for him – he didn’t plan every rap of the chisel before he began. He just got started and found David inside as he journeyed.
As Indiana Jones escaped from the clutches of the bad guys in Raiders of the Lost Ark, he was asked how they were going to accomplish one step of the flight. “I don’t know, I’m making this up as I go,” he said. He had a general goal: Get away from the Nazis. He didn’t know exactly how he would do that – he just had a passion for the task and a general idea.
Ready – fire – aim.
As the trajectory becomes clear, adjust the trajectory. You’re off the cliff and soaring – now it’s just you and the forces of the universe or the market as the case may be – in this analogy, gravity – the goal is to master the wind before gravity has its full impact (literally).
Scared? Oh, yeah. There’s a literal deadline. Every worthwhile thing in life is somewhat scary, because every worthwhile thing in life carries some risk. Because life is finite and fragile, and no one is guaranteed a sunset.
“Look! Look over here! I have something to say!”
“Here! Over here! You should buy this!!”
“OMG! Did you hear what happened?!”
The voices barked from the glowing box on the wall.
“Why are they yelling at us?” he asked rhetorically, and she knew it was a rhetorical question but she answered anyway, because it amused her.
“They know it bothers you,” she said.
“They don’t know me from some other shmuck,” he grumbled.
“You don’t know that,” she said, arching a suspicious brow.
“They’re just trying to scare us, you know,” he said. “They always try to say something scary and then try to sell something.” He straightened. “Hey!”
“What is this lightbulb that just flashed over your head?”
“Maybe I should go out on the street, yell something scary at people and try to sell them something.”
“What could go wrong?” she said, her eyes rolling.
A long time ago in a land of hope and plenty, a perfect union was formed. But after a few years people got together to try again, declaring the new arrangement was “a more perfect union.”
Even at that, they perceived something was missing from their founding document. They made 10 additions. Continue reading →
All these people working hard to make us angry and outraged and offended – it all just makes me, well, angry.
But when I feel that “mad” boiling up in my gut, I realize I’ve fallen into the trap. Continue reading →
When Emily Dickinson died, they found a treasure trove of poetry that has endured for a very long time. In her lifetime only a handful of those poems had seen the light of day. She was afraid or otherwise unwilling to share them with others.
What are you keeping to yourself? How do you know you don’t have the power to touch millions of hearts?
You never know until you let the sun shine on your soul and share what’s in there.
Maybe you won’t change the world. But maybe you will.
Give it a try.
Every message — OK, maybe not EVERY message – most messages, a vast majority, seem to be steeped in fear nowadays.
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep people afraid and clamoring to be rescued, after all, as H.L. Mencken succinctly put it.
But it’s not just politics. Most headlines, most ads, most politics begins with something scary.
“You’re scared? Me, too. That’s why I turned to (insert bogus solution here).”
It seems fear sells everything, so the key to success is to scare everyone.
What if we refused to let the fear take us? What if we sought our own solutions rather than accept the ones offered by the fear mongers?
“How do you propose to do that?” you say. But that’s the point: You’re so accustomed to the pattern – propose the scary problem, then sell a solution – that you missed the point. It is not important how I propose to do that. How do YOU propose to move past your fear?
Swallow your fear and find your own solution. You know what to do; you’ve just been snared in the fear trap so long you feel you can’t take action. Take a step, then another, and see where it leads you. Or rather, see where you lead yourself.
The other day I posted the preface to the revised and expanded edition of my book Refuse to be Afraid, which begins:
“As this 2016 edition of Refuse to be Afraid is prepared, the major U.S. political parties have put up the two worst choices of my lifetime. To pick either one is to doom the United States government to four years of scary leadership, their ideas antithetical to the American standard of individual freedom and equality before the law.”
An old friend offered this comment: “I thought you were the eternal optimist. These words clearly convey a message of good old pessimism.”
Oh, perhaps those words are pessimistic, but they are an introduction to an introduction, and I chose the words carefully. Continue reading →