What is your greatest fear? Is it the fear of losing someone you love? Losing your health? Losing something else? Being alone? Dying?
These are all valid fears. We may feel alone with those fears, but we are not. The rest of the world shares them with us. And yet there seems to be a different degree of nobility to some fears: when we are asked the question, what is our greatest fear, do we not have a fleeting thought of considering what our answer may sound like? “What if I pick the wrong fear?” “What if I do not answer with a fear that involves a loved one, but only myself – is my fear a selfish fear?” It is not easy to face our fears, and facing them is definitely not made easier by a strong feeling of having to fit the mold at the same time.
While it may be noble that one’s greatest fear involves the wellness and presence of a loved one, the essence of fear is nothing more but the inborn will to stay alive. Thus the essence of fear is already a selfish emotion. Fear is also the resistance of change, to our survival and benefit.
My greatest fear is, and has always been, a deep and selfish fear. I am afraid that one day I will wake up as if from a hazy dream, and realize that twenty years have passed and I have nothing to show for it. That I did not even notice them passing, one by one. That I wasted precious time in which I could have made some tangible results, not only careerwise but also towards other people and our planet; that I did not live each day fully and did not explore our world; and that I would have no clear-distilled memories of great times and great learnings. That I simply had existed but not lived.
Fortunately this fear is one that can be availed. Truly living each day is a decision best made every morning of every day. I find that when one does it properly it is a tough decision to make, a little like a challenging yoga pose: one can either try to superficially resemble the correct form, or one can get down and do the work properly, no matter how inadequate it makes one feel.
Through the years I have developed what now seems to have become a mantra. If you share my fear, perhaps you benefit from sharing my mantra, too. The short version is: “live today”. The long version goes:
(Still your mind.
Remember to breathe. Then say to yourself:)
Today I choose to live this day.
I choose to live it by my highest sense of right.
I choose to experience what comes my way.
Om shanti. Peace be in our universe.
(Photos from the Oregon coast, USA; March 2010)