Over and over again our experiences prove that it is our mental outlook that is fundamentally responsible for whether we are successful or unsuccessful, healthy or ill, attractive or ugly, happy or depressed. Lama Thubten Yeshe
To that could be added “fearful or unafraid”. I have been thinking a lot about fear lately, because so many people say something like “I never could do that because I’d be scared to death”, or “aren’t you afraid of ……..?”. So here are some musings about fear, both personal and psychological.
Fear seems to rule some lives more than others. I understand how our mind can overreact, as I have had a personal experience with unreasonable fear this past year. Twice in 8 months someone crashed into my car, the second time leaving the car smashed and totaled. No serious bodily injuries, just some neck and back pain which persists, but any time someone pulls out too close, or Nikk follows someone too closely, or any other time in the car when my mind thinks I might be in danger, I get a huge adrenaline rush and anxiety. The overreaction is slowly dissipating, but makes driving or riding in a car unpleasant when it occurs. Normally I am not a fearful person, this overreaction gives me empathy for those people whose physiology causes them to be fearful. Why am I not usually a fearful person, and why specifically am I not a bundle of nerves thinking about all the potential dangers awaiting us on the sea or on the land in a foreign country?
Part of it is that I am by nature not one to worry, in fact I think worrying is a waste of time and energy. No matter how you imagine a future scenario, unless you are psychic, that scenario has very little chance of occurring, life being so full of potential possibilities. And worrying puts one in a state of distress, most of the time, which is not where I want my mind to be. Worrying and planning are two different modes. Nikk and I do a lot of planning; we try to think of all the things we might need, and then obtain them if possible, and think of the things we don’t want to happen, and how we can avoid them if possible. So because of the latter we have life jackets, harnesses and life lines, which will keep us in the boat during rough weather. We have radios, and radar, and flares, and bright lights attached to our life jackets in case we do go into the water. That, of course, is something that is a real danger, and is the only thing that I worry about, when considering this journey. Having Nikk go overboard and not get back into the boat would be devastating in so many ways. I could sail or motor my way to safety, probably, but the emotional devastation would be huge. So do I think about that possibility very often? No. Why? It would spoil the present moment.
Part of not worrying is that to worry you need to have your mind focused on the future, and I just don’t operate that way, and never have. Of course I plan, and dream, but it doesn’t occupy my mind to the extent that it would if I were a person who lives in the future. Carl Jung, and many others, have described different ways that humans relate to time. There are people whose minds focus a lot on the past, dwelling on either positive or negative scenes, and relate those to the present. There are people who live in the future, and I do have to say that schools want to have students thinking about their future lives, benefits of study, and benefits of performance. Inventors spend a lot of time thinking about the future, as does anyone who imagines their life and dreams about what might happen in times to come. Nikk and I have been spending a lot more time thinking about the future while doing all this planning and preparing. But Nikk and I live mostly in the present, which makes us very good in emergencies, because we can take care of what needs to be done pretty smoothly, without worry.
That brings me to trust. I know that Nikk has a wealth of experience sailing, he knows what to do in all sorts of conditions, and that gives me the idea that I can trust his experience to get us safely through the possible trials I’ve been reading a lot of books about sailing, and they have given me glimpses of the pleasures of the cruising life, and the possible discomforts and dangers. One of the books I really enjoyed is called The Motion of the Ocean by Janna Cawrse Esuary, it not only is an entertaining read, but gives the reader a humorous and honest look at life aboard a small boat sailing from Seattle to the South Pacific and eventually to Japan. I’m excited to actually get to pursue our own adventure, and willing to see what the future has in store. I wouldn’t say that I’m a thrill seeker, but I certainly do love having new experiences. To get the rewards of any endeavor, you have to be able to put up with the internal and external discomforts that inevitably come along, and love what you’re doing so much that nothing gets in the way. There will be moments of beauty, and perhaps moments of terror, times when we are marveling at our luck to be where we are, and times when we wonder why we thought this sailing trip was a good idea (seasickness comes to mind here). I hope throughout it all we can keep a certain equilibrium of thought, action and response. We are happy to know that we have the good wishes of so many people, and I do believe that the blessings of others will have a positive effect on our journey. With only one or two more days of preparation and dealing with setbacks, I think that the next blog will find us on our way. Thanks for staying tuned throughout the long days of trying to get underway.