Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt: What am I irrationally afraid of losing?
This prompts two somewhat different reactions. The first: When I was a kid, there were always a set of treasured possessions that I was absolutely irrationally afraid of losing. I think this began when I was about six or seven and lost a ring with a red glass stone that I’d gotten at the Ohio Historical Museum. I looked everywhere for my missing red ring, but never found it. After that, I was that kid who packed up my favourite things–even trophies I’d recently won–to take along on vacations, and when there were tornado warnings, I’d once again grab up all of those same things to take down to the basement. (I think it’s important to note that to me, tornadoes were very real. The 1974 Xenia tornado came around the same time as I lost that red ring, and we regularly had tornado drills in school.) This practice stopped when I got older, but I’ve always retained a kind of core belief that if the status quo is working for me, it needs to be protected at all costs. If it isn’t working, I’m very flexible and quick to adapt, but there does seem to be an ongoing concern with me that I have some sort of very deep-seated fear of losing my standard of living. I’d been doing a little bit better with this in recent years, but with the pandemic, it’s back, and the last thing I want to do is take risks around looking into different jobs, for instance. Of course, that’s not really an irrational fear, but assuming I get through all of this, it’s going to take some work to get back to where I was starting to think about going as I work towards–well, not quite retirement, but reframing what I want to do with my life in the time that is given to me.
This leads into my other reaction: Irrational fear is the result of failing to do proper risk planning. And risk planning involves being very frank and honest about analyzing each risk. How likely is it to happen, based on facts and educated guesses and assumptions? What can be done now to mitigate that risk? And if it does happen, what can I do? This fits right in with the Stoic tenet of understanding what is and is not in your control. There is not a thing I could have done as an individual to stop a pandemic from occurring. Fear of what’s going to happen right now as cases surge is a real thing–but what can I do about it? I can understand the risks and mitigate them, and do all I can to realize that I am not facing this as an individual. And that’s why I’ve pulled back in on all but the most essential trips outside my home right now.
It’s done. I don’t want to write the story tonight as it deserves better than the time I have left tonight to write it. It’ll wait until tomorrow. But here it is.