“At the heart of any terror is the fear of losing what we find meaningful.”
Mark Z Danielewski
archaic Russian word meaning “to back out of a situation due to fear”
Ok. This is not a philosophical thought, this is simply about terror, fear and losing something meaningful.
This is not about finding meaning in life, this is about losing what is meaningful in the here & now.
This also gave me the opportunity to share one of the unpronounceable words in the Russian language – vzbzdnyt.
In an everyday Life in which we are bombarded with ongoing changes, pressure on what we should change, and a pop culture pounding us with screeching voices of ‘change or be left behind’ it sometimes seems like what is meaningful to us has no value to anyone other than our self.
Therefore we keep on finding ourselves in positions and places where things that are meaningful to us are being grabbed by change and ripped out of our hands. That is why we keep … well … vzbzdnyt. Or at least we try to back out of these situations … out of fear of losing what is meaningful to us.
Let me share what I believe are the two most common situations that we find what is meaningful is threatened to a point where we fear losing it <sometimes almost to a point of terrifying us>:
– Losing yourself.
This one should create terror in our hearts.
What do I mean?
What is more meaningful in Life than yourself? Your identity? Your honor and dignity … and well … all those things?
Nothing, if not much.
And, yet, day in and day out Life, society, work and anything else you can think of is prying at any chinks in your esteem and tugging at any doubt or question you may have with regard to who you are and what you believe in.
Even if you are not sure of ‘who you are’ you fear losing something meaningful because you may never get it back.
This can be terrifying.
This can induce terror.
While many people smarter than I advocate standing your ground and holding on to yourself as tight as you can … well … I don’t advocate any one solution.
Stand your ground, but, if backing out for fear of losing yourself is the only, and best, path available? Go.
I tend to believe that not losing yourself isn’t about taking pride in HOW you do it, it is taking pride in the fact you actually figured out a WAY to do it.
– Losing what you know <or what you believe>.
Most of the time this one creates unneeded terror.
Simplistically, it is wrong to think that what you currently believe will ultimately provide meaning, or purpose, for your life.
Yup. Far too often we seek in ‘what we know now’ to define meaning.
Well. Actually … it is living life that really provides the answer <not ‘what I know now’ or any philosophical reflection>.
I have rejected the view that life’s purpose can be understood by looking backwards to its origins.
But that doesn’t mean the only alternative is looking forward to its ultimate end.
Just as the restaurant staff are fulfilling their professional purposes in the present simply by doing their job, couldn’t we fulfill life’s purpose in the present simply by living our lives?
Living Life is all about expanding what you know and, well, that means losing the shit that you no longer believe.
The reason why we find this terrifying? We actually often find something meaningful in … well … oddly … ignorance.
Well. That sounds frighteningly idiotic. But a little ignorance, a little less knowledge, can actually be comforting.
Therefore we hold on to what we currently believe <even if it is ignorance> with tight ragged claws.
This is self inflicted terror.
This is self inflicted fear.
This is misguided identification of what is meaningful.
Life is terrifying if you think about shit too much.
Life is terrifying if you think about the WRONG shit enough.
Sometimes life seems purposeful and meaningful and sometimes it seems pointless, meaningless and even absurd.
Just as terrorists succeed only when they create fear, aspects of Life succeed in creating terror only when they generate fear.
Notice I used ‘create’ and ‘generate.’
In and of themselves <terror> … they are nothing.
All I think I know is that if you truly identify what is meaningful to you <and not make up meaningless meaningfuls> you will be more likely to be steadfast in the face of fear and not give terror the opportunity to … well … win.
And you will not only win in the here & now … you will win in the then & there.
All I think I know is, well, don’t let fear win.
Originally published September 2015