Sunday, February 20, 2005

for the moments i feel faint

"Progress is the life-style of man. The general life of the human race is called Progress, and so is its collective march. Progress advances, it makes the great human and earthly journey towards what is heavenly and divine; it has its pauses, when it rallies the stragglers, its stopping places when it meditates, contemplating some new and splendid promised land that has suddenly appeared on its horizon. It has its nights of slumber; and it is one of the poignant anxieties of the thinker to see the human spirit lost in shadow, and to grope in the darkness without being able to awake sleeping progress." Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Call it lay philosophy if you wish. You may also want to stamp a big "COMMON SENSE" on it with red ink. Either way, I think it's a concept worth consideration.

The past facilitates the future. There would be no present without the past. There would be no future without the present.

Bold statements, indeed. And there is probably some failing logic in there. But let me talk this out.

I didn't begin this because I had some grandiose revelation that deserved to be chiseled into the immortal walls of cyberspace. I just happened to reflect on the past and how it has led to the present. There are so many aspects of my life that wouldn't be existent if a chunk out of the middle of my past hadn't occurred.

I have a recurring fear of the future. (I believe I've told this before, but I'll tell it again.) I know when it began. It was the summer before freshman year of high school. I had just gotten back from a trip to Florida. And I don't remember the reason, but I was sleeping in the living room floor that night. And right there on that hardwood floor as I tried to get comfortable that four years from then, I would be getting ready to go to college. The mere thought of it scared me to tears. How ridiculous that seems now, right? Because there was still a future to come that would prepare me. But I couldn't see that future. How was I to know that four years from that night I would be a completely different person who was (at least more) ready to take that next step. I was trying to get from one cliff of the Grand Canyon to the other in a babystep. No wonder I cried myself to sleep.

Looking back and seeing each slat of the bridge that would carry me across fall into place is easy. Yet another version of "hindsight is 20/20," no doubt. But waiting for that next foothold to come is not easy. And sometimes, it's tempting to believe that it will never come and you'll just have to jump from where you are--no matter how far you are from the other side. But what I'm learning is this: That foothold will come. The best thing for me to do is enjoy the view from where I am until it does.

Life is that cliché journey. You can't get from one place to another without actually traveling the road. It is so simple, but so often, I forget.

In light of this, I'd like to note that on December 21, 2003, I made a list of my fears. I looked back on them just now, and I can say that, though I'm not a fearless person by any means, I'm much less afraid of these than I used to be. It wouldn't be accurate to go through and bold the ones that I've conquered. It's not that clear cut. It's not a checklist. But I can say that I've made at least some progress in all of these and great progress in many.

"I'm afraid of commitment.
I'm afraid of responsibility.
I'm afraid of having an opinion.
I'm afraid of making decisions.
I'm afraid of being vulnerable.
I'm afraid of being alone.
I'm afraid of change.
I'm afraid of rejection.
I'm afraid of failure.
I'm afraid of audiences.
I'm afraid of saying goodbye.
I'm afraid of being first.
I'm afraid of growing up.
I'm afraid of reality.
I'm afraid of the future."

My fears didn't disappear over night. It was a matter of journeying, taking an uneasy step across a rickety bridge, even though I didn't fully trust it. There have been lots of me tightly closing my eyes and holding on for dear life while tip-toeing along only to open my eyes, see that I hadn't plummeted to my demise, and let out a most relieving sigh.

By no means have I met the greatest obstacles of my life or taken the most fearful steps of the journey, but maybe I've learned enough to keep my eyes open a little more.

Seeing as I've plastered it all over everthing I can, it's probably clear that this lyric has had profound meaning for me lately.

"Overcoming these obstacles is overcoming my fears." Relient K, "For the Moments I Feel Faint"

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