Overcoming Fear

Is it weird that I’m no longer afraid when new and serious problems arise? That is to say, I’m not ‘chronically’ or ‘seriously’ afraid. Obviously its a shock and I still have the fear; its just that I no longer fear the fear. I know at its basic core, fear is just a substrate for transmitting information — warning of danger, illness, death etc… But that’s all it is for me now. I’m no longer afraid — which is huge because I have been relatively paralysed by the fear of death, or the fear of losing function for a long time now; something I would say is relatively normal, all things considered.

Now, now I find strength in my suffering. Every day is an accomplishment. Why not be proud? Why not find power in that? A writer finds pride in a great work of fiction, an Olympic athlete in a gold medal. The common denominator between these experiences is dedication, hard-work, strength, courage and determination. Those are qualities I would say most of us share. These are qualities that engender feelings of pride and strength — almost borderline ‘cockiness’.

Each disease, or new pathology, or new symptom is like a milestone; another accomplishment – as counter-intuitive as that sounds. Its like they’re opportunities to show our true colours (and colours can be changed). Looking from the outside in I may appear to be a weak man wallowing in his problems; who lacks the strength to change his situation for the better. But from the inside looking out none of that is true. I’m stronger now than I ever was before — and I really only became sick almost exactly a year ago this month.

You can take this thought anywhere you choose. You could believe you have a duty, a deontological ‘calling’ to bear your burden with a strong face; your will inspires others to ‘carry on’. Just existing is not enough, you have to thrive. Thrive so that others can see and be inspired; so that they can themselves live happier lives. This is the idea I adhere to. To be a sick spiderman; a silent hero. Conversely you can make a religious argument. Or a spiritual one. Whatever one you choose, it still remains that we can always find a will to live. Not only live, but thrive.

Happiness, meaning, and truth are complicated subjects. So complicated I couldn’t even begin to give you a straight answer for any one of them — and I’m a philosophy major who has been thinking about these three things specifically for the last 5 years. I’ve talked and debated with some of the brightest men, and some of the daftest. What I’ve realized is that complicated is good. Its really, really good. Simple answers, black and white dichotomies (if they even exist; I have yet to find a compelling proposition) are hard. Good vs. Evil is hard. Right vs. Wrong is hard. On the other hand, totally relative things are just as hard (post-modernism is absurd). My point is that so long as something is complicated, there’s room to adapt. Happiness doesn’t come in one form, as we all know; however, when push comes to shove, when we begin thinking of happiness, these classical pictures come into our minds: a big house, dog, car… the nuclear family.

I argue that happiness and meaning flow from everything in this life. Every life is meaningful, and every person, no matter what circumstances, can find happiness. Complicated is good. When things are hard to figure out, it means there is more than one answer. Options fuel the chaos. And chaos is good.

(Disclaimer: metaphors are rhetorical… when I make controversial ‘all’ statements, like ‘every person can be happy’ understand I was making inductive generalizations; and induction is probable at best. Probable is good; possible is bad. There are circumstances where one can possibly, on an ultimate scale, never feel happiness — neurologically. So to those of you who are very logical, critical thinkers (which I would engender to say all of you are) : understand that I understand, too!)

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