I was meditating when my wife and daughter began to argue. Because of that state of mind, I didn’t get up and get angry with my daughter for arguing with her mother. Instead, I just felt the feeling of anger and explored how it felt physically. Normally, anger would take over. It was pretty good timing of meditation and a family argument.

Once I accepted that anger was there and let it be a temporary resident, I realized that the physical feeling felt similar to how fear felt for me. It’s a pressure in the chest, a buzzing that feels like way too much stress. Remembering things that cause fear made me also realize that each feeling felt very similar physically except one may be more intense than the other.

Then I realized how many times those feelings were felt during the day and in how many different situations.

  • In the cross-walk when a driver sees you at the last moment.
  • When you have to present your business idea or plan for approval.
  • When you think of some financial catastrophe or when you actually have one.
  • When your bank balance is negative because you and your spouse were out of sync.
  • When you can’t pay your bills.
  • When you think your boss doesn’t like you.
  • When you encounter a bear on a hike.
  • When you watch a scary movie.
  • When you are afraid of being judged by others.
  • When you have a thought about someone you love dying.
  • When you think about America going haywire over the elections.
  • When you walk late at night and the street lights are out.
  • When you consider the moment when you die.
  • When you are surfing at Ocean Beach in San Francisco and the current is insane in all different directions and your leash breaks and the waves are like 10 ton staircases that won’t let you come up for air.

Those feelings. Physically, they feel very similar. The small tingle of fear that your wallet is in the hands of a stranger and the full blown hot fear of a PET scan for cancer metastises. If you watch what the fear really feels like and see that how you think about it is what’s really different (apart from the intensity), then you will see that fear is really quite abundant.

When you separate the mental thought and the physical feeling (which you can do by doing something very hard…accepting the fear), that physical feeling feels like energy. Now, energy you can use to move. Remember that. Also, you can see the thought as separate because it can be separated. When you can observe the thought and feel that the fear is really just energy, then interesting things can happen.

You can think. You can decide how you want to respond. Granted, if a bear is chasing you react as you need to save yourself. But in the case where you are driving in your commute and feeling fear about something coming up like a layoff or an end of a contract, that’s a very good time to feel that fear, accept it and let it be there.

That’s where the blinder on the mind can come off and you can give your attention to what action to take. It’s really powerful.

Fear really is energy, just like anger is and like joy is. Fear is all around us all day long. There is a lot we can be afraid of. But, when you think about fear as energy and that it will be in almost every step you take, it seems that it’s more like the air you breathe or the ground you walk on.

When you realize that fear is really like air you can breathe, the world suddenly looks different. Whatever path you want to explore can feel open and possible. This is really incredible, and it can happen by doing the opposite of what you might expect.

The natural tendency is to avoid the fear. Feeling the fear and letting take full residence in the body can be massively overwhelming. It can be too intense. But allow it. Feel the whole thing and the world will look very, very different. It can be especially liberating if you have been afraid to acknowledge what you want out of life.

Be responsible for everything in your life

Each time I find I’m irritated at something that’s happened to me, I can’t help but realize that I put myself in that place. If I’m unhappy because of a little yapping dog in my house, I have to acknowledge that I let that little rat into my house. If I’m unhappy because I’m not successful at work, I have to acknowledge that everything at work I’ve done I’ve done.  It wasn’t some manager to blame for not deciding to put me up for promotion. It was my actions prior that led to how I was perceived by the entire group of people around and above me. Either I wasn’t working in the right way or not working on the right things. These were choices that I made along the way. Likely, I wasn’t thinking big enough. If I want to be successful at work or anything, I need to be very specific on the aspect of successful I want and then move in that direction with an unstoppable drive. I need to change my actions to those that will create success.
Being responsible means thinking things through. Thinking things through helps you know if you will create something that helps you or injures you in the future.  We live with the choices we make whether they are conscious or not.  

Time management is a JOKE!

If I have the choice between getting something extremely important to me done or getting a good night’s rest, I’m choosing to get things done.  I want to use every minute I have to make valuable things happen. I love to work constantly on what I think is valuable. I find when I’m not happy about something, it’s because I am not working enough. Now, when I say work on things, things can be anything…a business idea, family, having fun, or whatever.  When it’s time for a vacation and I haven’t planned something that is exactly what I want, what my wife wants and what will instill curiosity and verve in life for my kids, I’m pissed at myself for not taking the right amount of effort on something so important. Or, if I am in Yosemite, one of the greatest climbing areas in world, and I haven’t been properly trained at multi-pitch climbing, I’m thinking, “damn it!” 
I’ve mentioned vacation examples, but it is extremely important to bust ass when it comes to work because work enables life.  You may or may not have to work, but more than likely it was someone before you busting ass to create that for you. If you aren’t working on something, then you need to make good shit happen and fast. I want to work on what makes me interested and enthralled. In order to do that, I need to come up with what should be done because I like coming up with ideas that work and driving them through to done.  That excites me. Being responsible is exciting. It requires a lot of effort to do this.  You have to walk uphill with a heavy pack and influence people to enable or help you. But, getting what you want takes work. If you don’t work for yourself, you will be doing what others want to get to done.  It’s actually a much harder life if you aren’t working on what you want.  It’s a much harder path to follow.  It may feel easier, but not when you look back and ask yourself if you have really lived the way you wanted to. If your answer is no, there is nothing worse than a wasted life. Doing what you want may seem like work in the beginning, but it changes. It changes to not feeling like work. That’s the ticket.

Living right…how does one do this?

I’ve had the recent pleasure of spending a few days with a professor of literature and philosophy. These are subjects I enjoy. Fortunately, I have recently dedicated a portion of each day to studying what great thinkers have written. I do this because I am looking for the right way to live. Because of this valuable habit, I could step into the depth of his knowledge and consider my current circumstances and station in life with different lights of perception.

In reading the older philosophical writings, I have found Seneca the Elder and Marcus Aurelius to be extremely valuable. With the both of these thinkers, the realization that our time alive is finite and all things we create are temporary is the underlying theme that all other views flow. I’m sure this is debatable, but I will pass this over.

Seneca said, and I paraphrase, that we should not look to the future because the all the faculties we have now for the present will be available then. That we should not look the present because it is forever fleeting. But that we should look to the past and to not be afraid of what we will find. Have the strength to look at what you have done and reason best how to proceed on. Also, look to those great thinkers that have come before you. In this way, you make the greatest of thinkers the best of friends and call upon them whenever you wish. By studying the past you can learn how to live. This is my interpretation and I find it extremely interesting. Focusing on the now is a current cultural phrase and I do not find this thinking to be at odds with it.

Seneca also talks about being “engrossed” and “busy” with no time for “leisure”. The two former meaning spending time on the demands of others and the latter meaning studying and focusing on how to live rightly. In this same vein, Seneca mentions how quickly we come to guard our land or possessions, but how we leave our mind and time completely open to others to tread upon with time not ever being recoverable. How completely true this is and how sadly ironic. The things that will most surely leave us and are completely temporary are where our focus goes and the acquisition of wisdom is neglected and our most valuable possession is left out for any to take.

By being critical of our own past actions and gleaning from the great thinkers, we can choose how to spend our most precious possession, time. In this way, one can focus on the present and enjoy the company around us without concern. This time can be fully enjoyed. This is my interpretation.

More on Marcus Aurelius later.

When searching for the writings of Seneca the Elder, I found “On the Shortness of Life” was available on the Iphone via the App Store for free. If you use this device, just search for “Seneca” in the App Store. I am not affiliated with the application or it’s developers in any way.