Yesterday I went to Border’s bookstore with my son, because I had some “Borders Bucks” and I’m darn well gonna use ‘em. I am a bookstore addict anyway - it makes me sad to think they may one day be gone. Let’s hope if that happens, something just as sensorially gratifying replaces them.
Anyway… while we were perusing the bargain shelves, we came across a totally cool kids’ book about the universe. We flipped through it together, while my son reported to me facts he’d learned about stars, planets, and black holes.
We turned to a page called “Meteors and Meteorites”, and I recalled a time many years ago when I’d been backpacking with his dad at Joshua Tree and seen a blazing ball of fire scream through the night sky and then extinguish itself as it entered the earth’s atmosphere (POOF!).
As I scanned the page of this book, though, I glanced across a photo of the enormous Meteor Crater in Arizona (see photo above - that sucker is 4,000 feet across and 650 feet deep) and my eyes landed on these words: “Although no large meteorite impact has happened in human history, scientists expect that the next big impact is just a matter of time and chance.”
Now, earlier in the day, I’d been doing some journaling and had written down the random question, “WHY is fear an illusion? Why do I believe that only love is real? How, when it feels just as real and as strong an emotion as love, could fear be an illusion?”
And as soon as I read the words in that children’s atlas, the answer came to me:
Fear is an illusion because it allows us to believe that we can keep ourselves safe from harm.
Because the truth is, we’re not safe. We can set up all the elaborate anti-terrorism, anti-crime, and anti-virus protection in the world, and a friggin’ meteorite could still obliterate us out of nowhere.
But you know what’s great about that?
If we’re not safe, then why the hell are we waiting to do things like…
- speak in front of an audience
- write a book we’re not sure everyone will love
- apply for that position that represents a big professional leap
- make the phone call to an influential person in our field
- put on a beige dress, hop up on stage, shaggy eyebrows and all, and croon in front of the entire world… ?
What are we waiting for, people? A meteorite to take us out??
As my good friend Bill said to me this morning, “We are all one millisecond away from being a smoking hole in the ground.”
You may think it’s terrifying that you can’t control whether you get extinguished by an act of God, but actually, it ought to bring you comfort. It means you really can’t go wrong. It means that your fear of ordinary things like rejection or disapproval is so miniscule that it can be tossed aside with barely an acknowledgement. It means that if you take that leap and things don’t go the way you’d hoped, you can say, “Oh well, what’s next?” and keep moving.
Because if you’re ever faced with a giant ball of fire heading toward you, think about which would be more terrifying: knowing you’d lived a full life and done everything within your power to fulfill your purpose here on earth, or staring at that great big flame and thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding me… why didn’t I show up for that audition??”
Let the idea of becoming a “smoking hole in the ground” light a freakin’ fire under you, and DO the thing you are most afraid to do. There will never be a more perfect moment than right NOW.