Because, unfortunately, it has been the greatest motivator in my life. Not love, hope, greed, or joy. But fear.
My favorite quote about fear is from the classic science fiction book Dune, by Frank Herbert.
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
– Paul Atreides, from Frank Herbert’s Dune
Hopefully none of us will face the same torturous life and death circumstance that made the main character Paul Atreides repeat that mantra to himself. But fear is a real obstacle to people living a fulfilling life.
In my meditation practice, I’ve learned to identify my most basic fears and try to develop strategies to overcome them. Still a work in progress!
For those who want to see the scene on YouTube from the 1980s cult classic movie Dune, here it is:
One of the main reasons for my wife and I to return home to New York City was because of my parents. They were getting older and started to physically and mentally decline. As the youngest (and only) son , I was expected to be around to help them. And, eventually, take over their affairs.
But as much as I tried to get them to plan, my elderly parents simply refused to take action. And I don’t think this is unique to them.
So when the critical event doeshappen – a sudden medical emergency, such as a fall or a stroke – you are almost always scrambling to do damage control after the fact.
If I weren’t (almost) financially independent, I don’t know how I could possibly have managed things.
The prospect of our inevitable death should make us appreciate our life so much more.We all think and act like we will live forever, or, at least until some far off, future date that we prefer not to think about.
This is very much how I thought of my time on this earth. As a child, I was obsessed with academic performance. And then for almost 20 years I was obsessed with my career and compensation. In the past few years, I’ve been obsessed with financial independence.
But this was always in the context of balancing an enjoyable and fulfilling life now with an even more enjoyable and more fulfilling life in the future.
What if that future turns out to be only 5 years later? or 2 years? or 1 year?
Something pretty unexpected happened during the third month of my unemployment. Amazingly, my anxieties and stress about money, which were always in the background ready to jump to the fore, faded to a quiet murmur. I started to become beyond money.
At least for now.
And when I say beyond money, I mean that money no longer engenders in me the negative emotions as it did in the past. Instead, it allows me to conceive and achieve my goals.