advice to a stranger

wowsah, i don’t know where all this came from except that i read something posted by another about trying to decide on ‘taking a risk’ and it just…. flooded up and demanded to be written.

bringing it here to serve as it may… here and now… or on some far flung day.

“So why am I so fucking terrified? And it’s not just fear of failure here, there’s definitely a fear of success component as well.”

i do not know why you feel as you do, but i can speak to how and why the manner of fear i read you sharing has affected me in the past.

once upon a time, not so very long ago, i was a highly paid, highly sought after management consultant in the information technologies industry. the phone rang non-stop with people begging me to come bring order to their chaos. in this line of work i soon established my business, bought a lovely house, and had all the trappings one might associate with being very successful in one’s professional life.

i had worked my way up, quite literally, from the streets… having been ‘on my own’ since age 13, completely self-educated, and somewhat ‘grandfathered’ into technology, i often had to compete with others who were highly degreed. when i wasn’t competing with them for business, i was cleaning up their messes. (grin)

i worked hard. i played hard. i reveled in the admiration of my peers and the kudos of my many clients. spent freely, saved wisely, invested well. when the ‘dot com bust’ came, i had two years worth of salary banked and felt very secure in the fact that no flux in industry could upset the boat of one who had carefully strategized.

i was wrong.

i lost the company. i lost the house. i lost the car. i lost my life’s savings. eventually, i was reduced to giving away everything except what would fit into a 1989 honda and taking to the road to try and find a place stable enough (industry wise) to rebuild.

for a time, i was homeless. my daughter (14), i’d had to leave behind because i didn’t know what i was heading into and it was better for her to be stable and secure with family friends than possibly homeless with me. a wise decision, as it turned out.

the reason i’m telling you all this is severalfold… you see, coming up off the street, my only motivation was to get as far from it as i could, as fast as i could. and once i was far enough away to ‘feel safe’, i swore i would never, never, ever ‘be there’ again…

so you can imagine what it was like to be homeless… on top of actually being homeless. i felt worse than ‘beat down’… i felt hopeless. competely incapable. utterly impotent. and all the things society and culture sell and all the things i bought about how ‘planning and being careful and saving and investing wisely’… they were revealed over the course of that six year period from 2000 to 2006 as precisely what they are… illusion.

there IS NO security. there IS NO guarantee. there IS NO point at which you become untouchable. there is only the point of certainty at which you believe yourself to be so and everything past that… is faith.

but the important thing, the thing i tell you all of this to get to is much deeper… i spent 33 years of my life believing that if i could just … get off the street… have an actual home… build that business… have those shiny things… have two years of salary in the bank… pay my bills before they were due… play by all the rules… do all the right things… not only would i be secure… i would be …. happy.

but the slow process of losing it all brought home a very real truth to me — the only thing ‘having it all’ brought me was fear of ‘losing it all’… and by the time i had actually lost it all… i no longer feared it. i was relieved. it was over. there was, literally, nothing left to lose.

i wandered the U.S. for those six years. took whatever odd jobs i could find. long ago gave up on ever returning to technology, let alone any semblence of ‘what i once was’… and it wasn’t even until last year that i actually started doing more than just going through the motions.

i don’t fear losing things anymore. but that’s only because i don’t long to have them anymore. it has taken me 41 years to learn a lesson that is, in truth, a very simply thing… and a thing i used to know, even back then, when i was 13, homeless, on the streets, and swearing oaths about how far i was going to get from ‘being there’.

ironically, here, now, i have had things literally ‘fall from the sky’ upon me… and suddenly, life is sending me roses instead of weeds. but i am wiser in this moment than i was in 2000… and this time, i’m going to savor it here, now, as it is, and when it changes, thank life that i had it and look forward to what’s next. because you know what? there’s always something ’round that corner.

all of this being a long way of saying none of us are doomed to be the sum total of our upbringing. nor our environment. nor our choices. nor the opinions of others. the fears we hold on any given thing grow from within us, and speak to our wish to experience good things and avoid having to experience bad things.

but the things that happen to us are not us. and in this, there is a diamond core that no event, no failure, no success, no finding, no losing, no anything can even breathe upon… no matter what happens around you, K, none of it will ever control you unless you let it, and none of it will ever defeat you unless you allow it.

in every moment, you have perfect, pure, untouchable being. and no matter the storms, the terrors, the choices of others, or the fickle twists and turns of circumstance, to avoid a thing that will lend savor and delight, even if only temporarily (for in truth, all things are temporary… and our avoidance of this truth is usually the core of any suffering we endure), is better than the regret and grief that rises from having passed something by for fear of being unable… or of failing…. or even of succeeding.

whatever you decide to do, it will be the necessary thing to bring needful things to you. i wish you fortune, auspiciousness, and wisdom and in all ways, wish you well. (smile)

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