Following Fears

I woke up last Friday wondering about an expression my friend Glenn shared with me, “follow your fears.” It dawned on me that when I think about drawing, I feel uneasy. I actually enjoy doodling, but there’s something in me that gets butterflies when I sit down to sketch. A bit later, during our morning ritual with my wife Andrea, I  sketched this cartoon instead of using words to express what I was appreciating. We each write appreciated things down on one side of a 3×5 card cut in half, keep them in a bin, and read the ones from this year and last year (from a separate bin) aloud after we meditate. It’s one of our healthier habits.

Critters Wondering Cartoon

I drew it in my journal while she was appreciating on her side of the card. After we read aloud our cards, she added a few strokes to make the possum look less like a big rat. I added the pill bug later (a “bug” that is actually a terrestrial crustacean!) .

That’s the actual lamp in our “Buddha Room” where we practice awareness and appreciation. That cartoon, and this post, which could be polished up in numerous ways, are a bit out of my comfort zone. I do relate with these animal allies and their musings. I’m glad I drew what came to me. May we all experiment with befriending our fears, maybe starting with their cousins anxiety, ambiguity, and ambivalence.

Wailuku Public Library

Aloha y’all,

Some 30 years ago, in Kamuela, Hawaii, I used our small public library to help find our next home town. We’ve been in Fayetteville, Arkansas since 1993, and find great delight in coming back to the islands, and to other small libraries. Unlike then, wifi and computers are part of the wonderful world of exploratory tools. I’m enjoying my satellite Exploratorio here at the Wailuku, Hawaii Public Library (on Maui), where I savor the fragrance of molasses grass wafting through the window, along with the sounds of roosters crowing, doves cooing, and the steep slopes of Iao Valley inviting adventure.

“If we do not find pleasant things we shall at least find new things.” 

Cacambo, who was as good a counsellor as the old woman, said to Candide:

“We are able to hold out no longer; we have walked enough. I see an empty canoe near the river-side; let us fill it with cocoanuts, throw ourselves into it, and go with the current; a river always leads to some inhabited spot. If we do not find pleasant things we shall at least find new things.”

canoe lake man outdoors

Photo by Flickr on Pexels.com

“With all my heart,” said Candide, “let us recommend ourselves to Providence.”

— The Project Gutenberg EBook of Candide, by Voltaire

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/19942/19942-8.txt

Cacambo’s attitude and recommendation help me with my sometimes tiring daily deciding,  as I find them both optimistic and practical, “if we do not find pleasant things we shall at least find new things.”

It calls to mind something I heard ascribed to Sir Richard Branson, “Screw it; let’s do it!”

Do you have similar expressions or attitudes that help you choose what to do next?

Time ease?

“Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.” — Henry David Thoreau in Walden

Time is but a stream I am a-drowning in.” — David Christopher Fournet in Swimming Upstream and Swatted by Grizzlies

person holding hour glass

I figure I have a throng of company in feeling  time scarcity and/or  project profusion, which I reckon are different sides of the same clock. I do manage to have periods in which I’m at ease with this dance. I’d like to know what you do (or not do) to promote ease and flow with time and tasks. I’m willing to experiment and report my results.

The other side of your maximum fear

“On the other side of your maximum fear are all of the best things in life.” —Will Smith

(as quoted in AARP: The Magazine as Will turns 50)

sky flying blue sport

That idea rings true to some degree with most of me. That last sentence is funny to other parts of me. And so it goes with being alive, a mixed and amazing happening much of the time. 

I rarely encounter maximum fear. I got a wallop of it in January when my wife and I were on Maui when the alarm sounded that we were under missile attack by North Korea. I swear I could actually hear my heart pounding. On the other side of that episode of maximum fear was a very delicious dose of relief and appreciation that it was a false alarm. Those feelings are, at the least, very good things in life. 

Right now I’m experiencing a mild fear, or maybe more aptly, unease. I’m fixing to post these musings on this website. I’m going to once again proceed with the idea that I can develop this site as I go, to more concisely and clearly share my Gleanings, Wonderings, & Wanderings. 

Welcome to the wandering and wondering. May we meander upon wonderful things.

Also consider:

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” ~ Anais Nin (My augmentation: “to one’s exercising courage.” Come to think of it, maybe courage isn’t courage except in action).

Death as a Punctuation Mark

Plants at E window

I was just doing some stretching and moving in our family room, looking out of the picture window past our house plants gathered there for the morning sun. As I stretched, I spontaneously said aloud, “Tally (my recently deceased uncle Howard), if you can hear me, I want to tell you that I really appreciate the way you always greeted me with warmth and enthusiasm. I’m also grateful for the friendship you and my dad shared, and how much you both acknowledged that, before and after he died. I’m also thankful for the times you, aunt Betty, and various combinations of your kids took I and my brother Tommy along with y’all on adventures—to the camp on the bayou, to Whiskey Chitto Creek, and to Fatima high school football games when I was still too young to play.”

I don’t know if Tally lives on after death, or, if he does, if he could or would listen to my words. All the same, I felt a stirring in my heart as I spoke them, some moisture in my eyes, even as I do now as I type this—smiles, tears, and some other unnamable ingredients in the emotional gumbo, sweet with a bite.

A friend of mine reported the other day at our early morning mindful men’s meeting that it was a two-funeral day for him. He also shared that such times actually give him opportunity to feel more connected to the departed ones, and also to other living people. I also often find that true. In our discussion, I mentioned that sometimes I look at death as a punctuation mark. As I think more about that, I realize that death often brings more like an assorted collection of punctuation marks for me.

When someone dies, something certainly seems to change. I’m not sure what exactly. Is death a comma (not “coma” as I just read in reviewing)? Does life, does awareness continue on in some way? Or is it more like a period, the end of consciousness, a turning off of the computer for good? I wonder. I’ve had no experiences so far that suggest that I’ll be aware after I die. At the same time, I’m open to whatever adventures might arise. Oh yeah, and I do talk to people who’ve died, expressing gratitude and sometimes asking questions even. It helps me here and now, even without faith or confidence that I’m connecting.

Meanwhile, I figure that the kind of person I’d be after I die would be much like or the same as the character I am now. So, it makes sense to me to “live like you were dying,” as Tim McGraw’s song puts it. A key ingredient for me in that is savoring the flow of experiences moment by moment. I even remember to do that sometimes. I think of it as fruit there for the picking. Telling others how they brighten my life also tends to bring smiles inside and out. I probably remember to do that less than the savoring part. Opportunity! Thankfully, I told uncle Tally more than once how I valued him, including the time he shared similar sentiments with my father the afternoon my pop took his last breath.,!?