Peace … be still. Why turn danger into fear?

Photo by Rene Asmussen on

Astrologists, meteorologists, and economists earn their bread addressing our fears about what is going to happen next. The astrologist advises us on the impact some planetary retrograde may have on your behavior toward yourself and others. The meteorologist gives us the heads up on the threat of hurricanes, tornadoes, or winter storms. The economist forecasts the next calamity that may befall gross domestic product or the financial markets. The more knowledge that they can convey to address our fear of a supernatural universe, floods and tornadoes, or crashing share prices, the better we hope that we can prepare for what is around the corner.

But is there really a corner? We live our lives as if we are actors in an episodic event. Each day is a story and we hope the linear gods will bring the episode to a neat end so that we can move on to the next episode (assuming it isn’t a two-part episode); hence, we are simply watching the penultimate episode.

But what do we know such that we believe we can consult on the probability of how any episode may end? The fact that any prognosticator will give you multiple final endings to the episode should tell any of their cash paying customers that the prognosticator likely knows just about as much about the outcome as you do. At the end of the episode, the only thing you may know for sure is that you handed over your cash to someone with more letters behind their name than you have.

Let’s look a little closer at the fear causing thing that is allegedly coming for us. The dread we feel is when this usually undefined fear is closing the physical gap between it and us. Not only do we rely on the experts to tell us that the monster is coming, we rely on them to describe to us what this monster is; what it looks like. We stay tuned for the big bang at the end of the episode, not knowing exactly when the hurricane may make landfall and weaken or if it will go back over warm water and strengthen.

Suppose we were to mitigate this fear by looking at life not as an episode that may end a number of ways, in multiple outcomes that we have no assurance will result, but as one, long narrative with no obvious plot and no fear inducing message? When I was a boy, my mother would share with me how to “forecast” the weather. She learned as a little girl from her grandmother to smell the air and feel the temperature and moisture on her skin. She also learned to look at the seagulls and observe how low they were flying to the ground. These “in the moment” signs were what she used to guide her through another day in a continuous story line versus living in the fear of an episode based on a scientific forecast of fear that might never pan out.

Maybe instead of waiting for something to come for us around the corner or over the horizon, we should sit still and realize that what we think is out there and coming for us has likely been occupying a chamber right next to us. If we go inward, we may realize that what we are afraid of does not have to travel any great distances with dreadful sounding music in the background building up to a crescendo. While sitting still in a metaphysical space, we can choose to either enter the mental chamber where fear resides and start a new episode or merely observe danger come and go by like the shifting shade that it is.

Living life like an episode turns danger into fear and the prognosticators serve only to amplify that fear.

Maybe that Hebrew rabbi had a point. Peace …. be still.

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