Lean into the fear

This is dark days, my friends.

Not an hour goes by where some cold chill of a fear doesn't pass over my heart and threaten to bring me down. This election. This war. This economy, and what it's doing to people. The never-ending, always-on stream of bad news and...well, what it's not doing to people.

I read a good book over my 10 days away in Chicago by a crazy young hardcore punk zen monk. It gave me odd comfort, along with some perspective. Perspective, because things have always been crazy: they were crazy when Gautama Buddha set out on his quest; they're crazy now.

Comfort, because one really persuasive answer, while not exactly easy, seems pretty straightforward: accept responsibility.

For yourself.

For the things under your control, that help shape the world, your anger, your fear, your not-niceness. Your living-in-smallness. (Oh, and by "you"? I totally mean "me." So we're clear.)

While a Twitter-friend assures me we're not technically in a recession, the fact is almost beside the point: our fears, my fears, are telling us we are. And, as another new nerd-friend says, the answer lies in addressing the fears head on, and with grace and compassion. Be here now. Love thy neighbor...actively. Ground yourself in the truth of you.

I thought about all this stuff over and over these past several days. It was hard not to. Between the overwhelming generosity of all my friends, old and new, who lent me their homes and spare bedrooms, who took time out to meet with me, who bought me meals and drinks, who showered me with love, and the long, long walks I took all over my beautiful native city, one thing got hammered home time and time again: enjoy this moment, right now. This soft bed, this slice of pizza, this drizzle of rain, this "L" train that showed up at exactly the right time, this hug, this laugh.

I have a mission statement that I've had for a while, which I mentioned recently, "To be a joyful conduit of truth, beauty and love." But it is also nice to have a platform: some slightly more actionable ideals to root your ass in the here and now, and the way you'd like the next here-and-now to be. When I was Chief Nerd of my Nerdmasters club, my platform was thusly:

  1. Have fun.
  2. Leave things better than we found them.
  3. Start and end the meetings on time.

I chose them because, for whatever reasons, we'd let these things slide during the administrations before mine, and...well, it kind of chapped my hide. But the exercise of addressing these things week after week, of plotting a path that would make the platform real, both helped me realize it and why things slip away to begin with: because we are focused on other things. My presidency was far from perfect, but dammit, we had fun, that room and the people in it were better off when we left each Thursday night, and we got to the bar in time to get the drinking underway at a reasonable hour. Plus we learned what needed to happen next time. What still needed to be worked on.

What projects lay before us.

For the next few months, I'm committing to my own platform. I want to honor (and, god willin' and the creek don't rise) wrap up my previous commitments. I want to revisit my Best Year Yet plan I so earnestly began in January. I have new projects, including one promise I made with a lovely lady in Chicago, that I intend to see through.

And beyond that, I am going to adopt and adapt my Nerdmasters platform from last year as my personal platform for the rest of this one:

  1. I will have fun.
  2. I will leave things, myself, my people, my projects, better than I found them.
  3. And I will start and end my days on time. (Uh...after this one.)

I have some other ideas for how to tell Mr. Fear to take a hike which I'll share as time goes on and I actually start putting them into practice. In the meantime, I'd love to hear what's going on with you: what are you doing to grab your life by the horns, and what can the rest of us learn from it?

xxx c

Image by tcd123usa via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.