I spent the last five years in intentional effort seeking to articulate my philosophical and religious beliefs. It was a fun and challenging process that culminated in a talk that I recently presented at a local group. Articulation is great, but for me, for now, that process is over. I'm now entering a process of moving forward, of moving from words to action.
Now action is great, but it does involve something fundamentally different than my previous introspective quest, namely: collaboration. I've found immediately that if I am to act and to create in this world I will be collaborating with other people, nature, and the future.
To me, collaborating with other people, first and foremost, centers around language. We use language to construct and negotiate a shared reality together. I have a dialectic view of the world that requires collaborating with other people to bring in their unique perspective. To this end, I recommend that we seek out people that we respect and offer up venerability and the chance to build our world together. Also, I recommend that you share experiences with people you like, get wild! To me, those are some of the best and most memorable experiences in life.
Terence McKenna hypothesized that "culture is the object that was created to protect us from the mysterious and dangerous other". I believe there is great truth in this statement. On the one hand, I appreciate this aspect of culture, i.e. thank you for curing polio. On the other hand, I have decided that I can not go the rest of my adult life without seeking to truly contact that eternal other. Honestly, I'm not sure exactly what that will look like, but for some reason my first thought is trees. My first plan is to find a time to head out to the woods, to sit down, and then listen, without a clock or a phone nearby. Wish me luck!
This is the category that honestly has caused me the most anxiety. I believe this stems from recent changes in my life, namely having a family of my own. When I was 22 and single there was almost nothing that could scare me. Fly to China and live on my own for three months, no problem. Live alone in a cabin in the woods in Kentucky in the dead of winter, let's do this! However, my mindset at the time was very localized. My perception was that all of the potential gain and any of the potential pain was all centered around me. Yes I didn't want to be injured or die, but if it came to that, it came. But now I have a family. A wife and kids whom I love and whom I care dearly for. Also a wife and kids whom depend intimately on me. They depend on me both relationally and financially. Honestly, I think I've struggled to come to terms with this transition, and with this, comes anxiety about the future.
So there's the back story, but where do we go from here? Firstly, I refuse to be bound or to be trapped. Yes, this is a current struggle, but how can we move forward from here? Through reflection, I've come to the following maxim.
Every moment spent in worry about the future, is a sacrifice of present joy to mourn the potential loss of future joy.
Let's look again at part of this phrase: a sacrifice of present joy to mourn the potential loss of future joy. This is the key aspect that's proven useful to me. What you're trading here is an unknown for a guarantee. Let's take an example. Will I have financial difficulties in the future, maybe. And will that cause anxiety and loss of joy at that point, probably. Ok, that's a few maybes and a probably. Now what about if I spend today worrying about that possibility? Well in that case, I am guaranteed to have anxiety and a loss of joy. I have taken what was a possibility and manifested it as a reality in my life. Not even to mention that if I do end up having financial trouble in the future, I actually doubled the pain that I experienced because I got to experience it twice.
So what do we do then? If the above isn't the answer, what is. I think I will seek to come back to my original intention - action. Action and presence. In fact, worrying isn't even effective at affecting the future. But there is something that can powerfully affect the future - action. Action moves the world, and presence allows us to experience it.