What’s keeping me going through all of this?
One word: Fear.
Let me explain. It’s not the fear that you think. It’s a very specific kind of fear.
I’ve spent an awful lot of my life afraid of what might happen to me if I lost my comfortable existence, if I suddenly lost my ability to buy things I wanted, to go places I wanted, to participate in activities I wanted to participate in. I’ve been willing to build my life around ensuring that sense of freedom, while avoiding confronting those fears and examining what might actually happen if they were realized.
And then, suddenly, some of the perks of that existence have become impossible. Oh, I can still buy stuff, but I don’t want it. The activities I looked forward to? They’re off the table for now. Even my creative pursuits–many of which have been done in support of my hobbies–have felt a little meaningless. My fears, through no fault of my own, have been realized.
And you know what? I’m still here. And I am writing, and learning, and living. I look forward to it every day. And I’m thinking about that balance, the artificial balance that fear has wrought in my life. The fears that have kept me from even trying to do so many things that, looking back on my life until now, have truly fed my soul. It is not enough for me to consume, to experience. It is not enough for me to simply express. I have a driving desire to understand, to think, to pass on, to synthesize. And when I can do these things, that’s when I am truly happy.
And now, I understand that my fears of what would happen if I suddenly could not do the leisure activities I wanted to do, or if I could not buy each little trinket that caught my eye were vastly inflated. What would happen–what has happened– is that I would begin to understand what was truly important in my life. And I would start to stop talking myself out of my dreams and start thinking about how I might make them reality.
Specifics: I am starting to look into what it would take to make YouTube videos. Over the past nearly fourteen years I’ve done hundreds of Toastmasters speeches, many of them involving historical topics. I’ve never fit the “motivational speaker” mold that’s the common destination for those who think about a professional speaking career. As I mentioned yesterday, my passion is teaching and passing on knowledge. I enjoy telling stories, but I’m much more interested in non-fiction rather than fiction. Since we’ve “cut the cord”, we’ve found a wealth of interesting historical content on YouTube, including a lot of videos in the 10-15 minute range. I started thinking about the speeches I’ve done, many of which are close to that same length, and realized that I’ve already done the ground work for probably about 30 videos–or more! That’s not even counting the ideas for other projects I have–topics that didn’t lend themselves particularly to speeches, but might make great videos. And I realized that Dave also had this kind of knowledge. He has mused about writing books in the past, but like me, I think he does much better when he doesn’t try to boil the ocean. So I floated the idea past him–and now we’re going to spend some time this week looking into what it might take to start a YouTube channel.
The best part of this idea? It is absolutely achievable right now. Other than, perhaps, a microphone or some editing software. we do not need to acquire anything except the knowledge of how to do it. I do not need to change my career or go back to school. I have books in my home and Internet access if there are knowledge gaps to fill. And while right now the aim of this project is simply to share knowledge, it’s quite possible it could evolve into something greater–something that might begin to build a portfolio of work for opportunities I don’t even know exist now–or which do not yet exist.
Right now, since I am expecting to be housebound for some time, there is nothing to stop me from pursuing this. The costs to me are almost nil. The potential benefits to me personally are enormous. Not only will I feel able to control something, to truly “do something” during this crazy time, I will be able to plan the time I do have rather than worrying about a future that is still cloudy. And in building these habits now, I will be less likely to go back to the old way of things.
I’m cashing in some of the investments I’ve made in learning and knowledge over the past many, many years to make new investments in the person that I wish to become–and all because I realized that the thing I feared most in life was not worth fearing.