Have you ever been so anxious before a trip/wedding/job interview that you could hardly sleep? Who hasn’t had a night like that?!
You don’t have trouble sleeping before a big trip because big trips can be dangerous. It’s because you’re afraid of the unknown. You’re afraid that it could be dangerous, that the immigration officials might not let you cross the border, that you could miss your connecting flight, that your suitcase could get lost. (My suitcase got lost for half of my three-week vacation one year. Believe me, you can live through it!)
Well, first off, there are more things to be afraid of. I spent the first two days of this year’s trip to Mexico crammed in the back seat of our truck with three other people. No seat belts, curvy mountain roads that had flowers and crosses commemorating dead travelers every fifty yards. We passed by: one roadside in flames (escaped from a nearby field being burned by farmers); one roadside that had a twenty foot drop beside it and some orange cones and lights to protect us from it; one guy juggling flaming batons at an intersection for change from passing cars. You get the picture! I don’t feel like Mexico really more dangerous than America. It’s just that the danger is more visible, not hidden or masked. And here’s the second thing Mexico has to teach us about fear management:
Here in America, we love to pretend that! With our abundant insurance policies and regulations, we feel like we’ll be able to stop a cancer from killing us. Nope. The end result of cancer could still be a premature death. The end result to all things about life will still eventually be death. In America, we tend to be more afraid of death and we distance our realities from it. In Mexico, death is an ever present force. Crosses and dead dogs on the side of the road, the Day of the Dead celebration, and a slew of sayings that scoff at death. “Todo tiene solucion menos la muerte.” (Everything has a solution, except death.) is my favorite!
They surrender the false sense of control over life’s circumstances for a more authentic and practical worldview. If something bad comes up, then you work through it. If the bad thing that comes up leads you to death, then you die. It has to happen sometime. The best part of constantly giving in to life is that your waking moments are lived more fully and with less anxiety, less fear.
Start by letting go of the need to control the uncontrollable. Start small! Make the process of letting go of control be one of gentle reminders. Even letting go of the need to control your process of letting go!! Sure you can have health insurance, it evens out your chances of having to pay too much money for important, life-prolonging medical expenses. But don’t forget that you will die someday no matter what kind of health insurance you’ve got. Play off death like the punchline to a bad joke! Instead of spending time worrying about all the bad things that could happen if you take a trip/get married/wear a blue dress to the job interview instead of the red one, go ahead and take the first step toward those exciting possibilities and then follow the path where it leads. Even if it leads to failure, it’s a success! Because you showed up. You played the game! Sometimes you’ll win, sometimes lose, but you’ll have lived more fully and less fearfully :D
Todo tiene solucion, menos la muerte!