I took a yoga class this evening and the dharma talk and class were all about letting go of the fear of death/what you would do if you knew you only had a limited amount of time left. This was in light of Halloween having just passed and all of the celebrations and rituals surrounding death and the veil between the living and whatever is beyond this life becoming a little more translucent around this time of year. At the beginning of class the teacher shared that he has a friend and whenever she is on the phone with her mother and her mother starts nagging her she says, “I’ve got to go mom. I’m going to die soon.” I couldn’t stop laughing…and then I could stop thinking, because it’s a brilliant response. It is also quite comical, that is if you are not the mother. (I may or may not use this one on you, mom.) What if every time I was in a situation I could control or shift, I did? What if, instead of saying or thinking, “This sucks,” I actually did something? What if every time my mother starts nagging me on the phone I simply say, “I’ve got to go. I’m going to die soon.”
As I heard the teacher say multiple times, “What would you do if you knew you only had five years left? And why aren’t you doing that now?” I couldn’t help but let the words seep in. There are things I have been wanting to do, talking about doing, and am now taking proactive steps toward doing, but have not yet done. My fears are getting louder and louder and moving into the front row for the best view of what will surely be epic failures. Only, what if these things are not epic failures? And, how is allowing myself to actively engage in things I love and actively engage in sharing those things with others in any way, shape, or form a failure? Fear is essentially a freak out over something that hasn’t happened yet…and may never happen. It is a figment of one’s imagination. Sure, worst case scenarios occur. Sure, some fears turn out not to be figments of our imaginations. (I am not writing this in the middle of a war torn country or in a state of starvation or facing any foreseeable horrors or abuses in my near future.) Many fears, however, simply act as barriers between what we are currently doing and what we would like to be doing.
I came home from class and decided to send the email I had been scared to send. I published the website I had been scared to publish. I put myself out there. So far, 15 minutes in, nothing horrible has happened. I’ve even had some positive responses. Who would’ve thunk? I may even conquer the huge fear of placing my order for business cards tonight. The perfectionist in me is terrified to actually submit the order. What if they aren’t perfect? What if I find a better design as soon as I place my order? The what if list is pretty long right now and I shall refrain from torturing you with it here. The reality is, I am ordering 100 business cards. If they are awful I will order new ones. If they are perfect, I will still have to order new ones in the near future. I may die soon, and I may die without business cards at the rate I am going. My perfectionist voice has been doing far too much nagging today. I have only this to say, “Perfectionist voice, I have to go. I’m going to die soon.”