I have recently started to follow a friend’s blog. Meng’s blog focuses on photography tips. What I love about it is how he relates what he learns from his passion for photography to life. The latest tip he posted said:
There will always be excuses for not trying, keep those excuses and you would still be where you are. What harm would it do to you for trying? I guess it is a challenge of your humility and fear. Lose that fear factor and you would emerge a better person, a fearless one. Now, isn’t that something nice to have?
Inspirational words on a Monday morning.
We human beings are wired to spit out explanations, excuses and reasons faster than anything else to justify the lack of action or progress. Some of us tolerate the lack of progress; we take comfort in our reasons, excuses and justifications. Worse, some of us think we are making progress when we are talking in circles and pacing on the same spot over and over again. Excuses and reasons are the perfect distractions from addressing the root of the issue.
We human beings continuously invent excuses and reasons to avoid a state of failure. The very concept of failure is relative, pitched against a yardstick held by the society, others or self. Reasons and excuses could save us from being seen as a failure. Regardless of how ridiculous or flimsy an excuse or reason might sound, we are contented as long as we get to say: This is not my fault. Phew. I survived to live another day.
I am beginning to see that excuses and reasons exist primarily as a defense mechanism. When we are unable to hide behind reasons and excuses, we have to confront what lies deeper underneath. Like Meng said, it is a challenge of our humility and fear.
My question is: so what if you were not 100% successful, if you failed now and then? What are you hiding from?
It would be great to be fearless but I don’t think that is possible. Unless you are a newborn into this world, it is not possible to be without fears. In fact, it seems that the older we get, the more experience and knowledge we collect, the more fears we ended up having. Fears will always exist in our lives, some more real than others. Let’s not kid ourselves.
However, it is entirely possible to live our lives as if we are fearless; in the sense that we are not driven by our fears, we do not let our fears control the way we live our lives. We deal with our fears by being with them, by not resisting them, by not pretending they don’t exist.
One of the best advice I have received in my life is to take action in spite of my fears. That, is something called courage. The opposite – cowardice – is perhaps one of the biggest and most common fear that we human beings share, regardless of who you are.
The very presence of fears can be an obstacle or a source of power. We all know that. Ask a mother whose child is being attacked. Ask an athlete running a marathon who hits the infamous wall at the halfway mark. Ask the old lady who is trying to cross the road.
In that moment when you get present to what you are afraid of, you have to make a choice: give in to it or rise above it. What you choose in that moment in time will determine the course of your life in the next moment and beyond.
You can choose to give in to your fears and justify your choice with loads of reasons and excuses, all valid, very reasonable and even logical. Or you can choose to rise above the fear and take action in the face of it.
Whichever way you choose, it is perfectly alright. The only difference is whether you live a life the way you want it or one where your fears rule.