Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Retrospective View of Life

Fear is a survival instinct. In early times, it alerted us when we were in peril and protected us from harm. In modern day, our fear instincts alert us to the sound of footsteps that could endanger our survival and keeps us from going into places that could harm us.

But as we get older our self preservation instincts stop us from doing the things that could change our world. We fear an uncertain outcome (one that could be great) and we settle back into the safe, mediocre place where we reside. And yet our greatest regrets are the things we did not do. When I am 85 will I wish I had stayed at my job and not ever experienced my own gig. Probably not. And what about all the experiences and skills I will learn along the way. What if I create autonomy in my life that allows me to see and travel the world. Then it is worth struggling through the fear that threatens to hold me where I am. Even as I write the voice of fear says what if you do not succeed...

Just reviewing the walls I have walked around since I began. Progress has been slow because I was repeatedly stalled - no paralyzed by fear each time something did not work out. Having a mentor who has once been where I am now helps make the process real. She has expectations of my product that makes it far from trivial. She is hugely successful in the exact world where I will go, so her belief in what we are doing is founded in experience and knowledge. It helps me to confront my fears, dispel them and move past them. It moves me faster through this sequence. New skills.

Interesting that those who are near death, get a final hours perspective. Crystal clear visions of how it is. What you have. What you earn. Were you successful on the parameters that your world uses to evaluate you? It all doesn't matter. 'Did you use the years on Earth well' is the true measure of the time spent. We define the word 'well' deep inside of our own heart and mind. If we can hold on to the final hours perspective then it changes how we view things and it creates an almost tangible peace in the choices we make. We eschew the choices that do not resound in the final hours analysis. We need to summon the final hours perspective more often in our lives to crystallize what is real and what is meaningless. It changes what we do with each minute.

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