Face your fears, live your best life and keep moving forward.In the battle of life, you are the enemy and the warrior. In the battle of life, as long as you’re fighting you are winning…
When the plump woman walked up to the stage, clutching the mic with both hands, no one knew what to make of her. She looked more like a lunch lady than a vocalist. Her outfit looked like what not to wear during an audition. While every other contestant wore sexy, hip and form-fitting outfits, hers looked like an old set of drapes.
Everyone in the auditorium was against her. You could feel it. What was a short, 47-year-old woman going to offer? The audience wanted her to be done with it and get off the stage as soon as possible.
When she said that she comes from a small group of villages, the kind with a mouthful of a name, it reminded me of the Shire, Bilbo Baggins’ home in The Hobbit. A place where plain quiet folks who have no use for adventures live.
Despite the jeering, she was determined and tightened her grip on the mike.
The year was 2009, during the first round of Britain’s Got Talent, her name is Susan Boyle.
As she sang the opening chords of “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Misérables, time stopped. Her voice carried the audience away. So powerful and beautiful, that it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. It wafted through the speakers, into the hearts of the people. It was breathtaking. But she was not done yet…
I dreamed a dream in times gone by
When hope was high and life worth living
I dreamed, that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung, no wine untasted
The audience is clapping now, then almost everyone is on their feet, cheering like it’s at the races on a Sunday afternoon. By the time she’s done, they are all in awe. The judges sit still, one of them holds back tears. History had been made.
Within a year after that performance, Susan Boyle became a millionaire. The daughter of a Scottish Miner and a Shorthand Typist had changed her life.
But why at 47? Why did it take that long for her to shine?
Why not 14,19 or even 24?
“According to your life, your duties have been prescribed for you. Follow them and your desires will be naturally fulfilled.”
– Bhagavad Gita
There are some creatives, who were lucky enough to have parents who nurtured their talents. Those are the great ones, life has been kind to them. They grew up doing what they love. They came into this world, fists closed, holding their talents and didn’t let it go. Beyoncé is one of them, but that’s not to say she hasn’t worked hard to be where she is.
However, there are some of us who have had to trudge on doing what we love. We have held on to our gifts because nothing else in this world gives us the satisfaction we get while doing what we love. This is Eminem and his lyrics. Da Vinci and his curiosity. Galileo and the stars.
We are the master and the slave. One part of us is really good at what we do, really loves it. There’s nothing else we’d rather do. Whether it’s painting, writing, singing, swimming, acting or a sport. We’d rather bleed doing it. Without it, we are empty, we are formless like a mound of clay.
Then there’s this other opposing force inside us. It holds us back. It’s the source of our fears.
What if I am not really good? We tell ourselves.
What if people don’t like it? We convince ourselves further.
We postpone doing it. Push it to tomorrow but tomorrow never comes. More and more nails in the coffin.
It’s a delusion in our heads that sometimes brings us to our knees. The sad thing is, this resistance breaks most of us. We let it win. As a result, we suffer and will continue suffering till we find a way to overcome this resistance.
Is this story familiar: Woman learns she has cancer and has seven months left to live. In a week she quits her job and resumes doing what she once loved as a child. She starts painting once again or joins a band and never looks back. The more daring ones take a one-way trip to Barbados. You probably have, or a version of it. Maybe you’re even living it.
But is that what it takes? Do we have to stare at death in the face to take a stand and confront resistance? Do our lives have to be disfigured for us to finally face this raging beast? Very many of us have become addicts, developed tumors and succumbed to various addictions because of this.
We have two lives, the one we live, and the unlived life inside us. You know which one you want. No one has to tell you. But you don’t feel like doing it. Steven Pressfield calls it the creative battle. There’s this engine of destruction whose goal is to prevent us from doing what we love. You have to know that it’s not your personal ally. It’s a force of nature, driven by fear.
But hey, this is not a sad story. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. There’s a way to win the creative battle.
Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.
Performing your duty without attachment or aversion is a great antidote to the poison of fear. If you are not concerned about the outcomes of your work, you will experience no fear, but when you attach yourself to expectations, anxiety and fear will overcome you.
The outcome will be what it will be regardless of your expectations and fears. So why don’t you just concentrate on putting in the work? Concentrate on getting better and more so, find a way to help people through doing what you love.
The hat is good, the shoes are good. However, if you put the hat on your feet, and the shoes on your head, then both become useless.
Fear is not a useless emotion. We can’t just ignore it and say it’s a bad thing. Due to the grace of fear, we learn to respect the laws of nature. We do not foolishly jump into a blazing fire or drown ourselves in the depths of the ocean. Due to the grace of fear, a mother will tenderly watch and protect her child from harm. We can harness this energy and instead of filling us with agitation, this energy can actually lead us to a state of intense concentration. Face your fears, befriend them, understand them.
How do you face your fears?
I like Chris Hadfield. In him, I see the rewards of facing your fears and doing what you love. In his TED talk, What I Learned from Going Blind in Space, he says that the danger is entirely different from the fear. And that if you do the thing that you are afraid of consistently, you will conquer that fear. You can apply this to anything in your life.
In the battle of life, you are the enemy and the warrior. In the battle of life, as long as you’re fighting you are winning. You don’t decide how your story will start, but you get to decide how it ends. Never let go of your fight