Each week I spend a fair amount of time working alone, thinking, writing and practising. I also spend an absurdly large amount of time worrying. Worrying that I’m not enough, that I don’t belong, and that I should be doing more. Worrying is a nasty habit I picked up from… well… everywhere. Worry is contagious. Have you noticed that we are collectively anxious? Anxiety is a poison we pass around.
The irony is that our penchant for fear is more detrimental to our health than whatever it is we think will happen. Even if you aren’t beside yourself with worry, you probably have a low-level buzz of unease playing like a background track to your life. If not, you are either in denial, medicated, or enlightened. Congratulations.
Of course, real fears need addressing, immediate dangers, such as massive lions stalking you or the dark ally you have to walk through wearing your diamonds. Still, when I look out of my window, there is no war or food shortage in my immediate reality. I have enough water and shelter and stupid things I don’t need.
Yet, I waste hours of my life feeling disconnected and powerless, especially when I hear the stories of hardship, war, famine, corruption, greed, and violence. I fear my life is a valueless waste of time (and precious resources.) Okay, I’m being dramatic. But hey, isn’t that what fear is? Drama.
A new friend who has observed a slice of my life through Instagram and onstage said, “you have such an awesome life.” I was taken aback. Can’t she see my life is a vacuous futile waste of motion? But the affirmation had the effect of shaking me from my warped thinking and caused me to reflect. Does a duck worry that swimming in the lake is pointless? Does the flower feel ashamed to bloom? What’s wrong with being me?
I get so caught up in my projections that I forget the basics of connecting. In the book Tribe, Sebastian Junger points out how at odds the structure of modern society is with our tribal instincts; we need to be needed. And when we rattle around alone in our heads, we lose our way.
The antidote to fear is found in other people. I have enjoyed moments of profound connection whenever I consciously opened myself to it. The adventures of my life have been challenging and continue to baffle me. The incredible people of this planet have sweetened those adventures and turned them into the fondest memories. Those same people remind me that whatever happens along the road, I belong in this world. Fear not, fellow travellers, each of us is an essential ingredient of this great adventure called life.