After a month-long trip to Europe, having had plenty of time to reflect, a long car ride put me in an easy, pensive mood. In the Western world, the psyche seems to have a more objective understanding of one’s circumstances, and consequently, one’s responses to them. As such, I’ve endeavored to step further outside myself, as well.
Which do you often listen to–your fears or your soulful desires?
The media does a good job of wiring our minds toward the latter, but I choose to look at reality more objectively. Why base decisions and judgment on a 1-5% probability of losing your limb to climb a mountain, or being held hostage in a terrorist attack in a bustling city full of possibilities, when it won’t happen 95-99% of the time? At the end of the day, isn’t there always a possibility of death? Isn’t it that there is no assurance against an asteroid falling over my head at this very moment or a destructive storm blowing me away as I type this?
Choosing courage–yes, it is a conscious choice, it isn’t in my nature to be brave–over fear is merely a rational response to reality. As Ambrose Redmoon puts it, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear.”
If you populate your mind with fear, I beg you to reconsider. Trust the world you live in is what I say.
Technology can do a myriad of things for us–harmful and beneficial, depending on the way we use it.
For instance, it may be a way to understand a controversial line of thinking better–to trace the roots of, for instance, anti-semitism (as my experience in Krakow drew me near to), or to explore the justifications of those who might support hostile, tyrannical world leaders. It is a way to reach the brilliant minds of people far, far away from my social circle and geography, and, when one is lucky, get to communicate with them. The internet, at the time of this writing, democratizes information, and anyone is free to discover what he wishes. It is the way one curates information and filters it to serve the purpose of, say, becoming a better person–intellectually, socially, spiritually, economically, etc., that makes the difference. Will he take advantage of this revolution for his benefit, or will he unconsciously use it to dig his own grave? I, for one, prefer to harness its power to find the truth and to expose myself to influences that support my principles and my desire to grow.
I’ve learned to disagree without being too close-minded while listening intently to what the other has to say with empathy–understanding the context of what is said, and not taking everything at face value.
Not everyone has the same views, and invoking one’s perspective isn’t probably the best way to make the world better. Disagreement is healthy, in my opinion, if it expands and alters dangerous mindsets. It moves the dialogue forward when done without harmful emotion that makes it impossible to reach a conclusion or a course of action.
The Question of Joy
Earlier this week, I pondered: why am I described as optimistic, so full of vigor, so lively? In my own observation, why am I joyful?
My contentment is attributed to internal alignment—the realization of my purpose upon taking stock of my abilities and character, the joy of my future in Heaven—and the healthy inner burden to tell of this gift, the steadfastness to which I hold my principles—or rather, the temporal absence of temptation to test them, the value to which I hold my relationships—gladly expressing my affection to those I cherish, and the liberty to pursue my deepest curiosities—internally, through reflection, and externally, through travel, literature, film, and conversation. The Lord has blessed in me a spirit that easily feels for, but rarely carries, burden, for the mind has been chiseled to withstand small blows. It is, however, unaccustomed to painful jabs, from which I seek solace in God’s promises.
Upon further reflection, it seems that I have broken free from allowing externalities—the weather, events, people’s attitude and perception—to defile my sense of self, or to etch a deep and hollow mark on my being. Why must I, being (seemingly, for the time being) free as a bird, allow another to dictate my flight’s direction? In this liberation I look forward to exploring more of my capabilities, as the Lord permits, by putting influences along my way, but I must take heed to guard my heart, for in its wandering it may be led astray, or worse, held captive—at once blinded to a precious, shiny object, which hid under its surface a promise of pure folly. I write this because, I’d like to constantly keep my heart in check, knowing full well of God’s faithful design, His sovereignty and knowledge that surpasses all the world’s wisdom and beauty, that I may be careful not to forget the joy in His dwelling, and through my words I make that commitment.
Qualifying My Insecurities
Social media ate up my confidence in myself—I allowed it to. Unconsciously scrolling through my feed, achievement after achievement, congratulations flying off the roof—don’t get me wrong, I am happy for my friends, but it often only comes after a pang of envy, coupled with regret that I did not tread down a single path as diligently as they did, and so on. Anxiety, which I then justified as a good kind, one that motivated me to propel forward and to continue pulling through whatever I was engaged in at the moment, in hopes that I can, too, someday show the world the fruit of my labor.
Gratefully, some change in attitude, as a result of exposure to more independent minds, I’ve become gradually free from the social pressure of social media. See, I realized that achievements, depending on the industry and occupation, are more well-documented—or, in modern terms, ‘Instagram-able’ than others. Some success is also, when carefully qualified, easier to attain than what one may be painstakingly occupied with at the moment. Some success may come as a glorified version of what actually is when he takes the time to qualify its essence and the effort required to get something done. This is not to discount the documented milestone, rather, to frame a more realistic picture for the spectator—to rid him of the spasm of jealousy, which may cause a trigger that leads to insecurity, or worse, despair.
Upon this realization, I’ve learned to carefully decide my reaction following the stimulus that is induced by an online piece. It has worked well since–a priceless nugget of wisdom, of caution.
I wish the same kinds of reflection and subsequent peace for you, dear reader.