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Moving Past Fear
It's the only way to live with joy
I have talked before in this newsletter about accepting the world the way it is. Accepting that certain things are now inevitable. Accepting that I, alone, cannot fix things that are so much larger than me.
This is largely what the beginning of Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet is about, and it provided this affirmation to recite each night before bedtime.
1. I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.
2. I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape having ill health.
3. I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.
4. All that is dear to me and everyone I love is of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.
5. I inherit the results of my actions of body, speech, and mind. My actions are my continuation.
Acceptance does not mean inaction, however. It just means that our actions won’t be clouded by anxiety or worry. We will use clear sight to take the right action at the right time for the right reason.
The book also urges us to take responsibility for our thoughts, speech, and actions.
Part of the reason to accept impermanence is to reduce fear. And part of my goal is to help myself and others reduce fear.
If you have anxiety, you know that anxiety is fear of future events (whether real or imagined). One way I reduce the immediate fear caused by anxiety is to practice mindfulness by being in the moment. I ask myself, “In this moment, is anything on fire?” “In this moment, am I in fear of going hungry or being homeless?” “In this moment, am I in danger?” And the answer to those questions is inevitably “No.”
Fear often causes paralysis, which is never helpful in any situation. It reduces our ability to be creative and keep a positive outlook toward the future.
Fear also can make us act like a jerk. In fact, I think it’s why so many people act like a jerk nowadays. There’s so much fear, and it is stoked constantly online and in the news. Don’t get me wrong… there are real things to be afraid of. But those things often get lost in the distraction of the fearmongering. And the fearmongering tells us that “those people” are the cause of our fears when it’s really an economy controlled by a patriarchal oligarchy.
When we can reduce fear and stay focused, we can invite more joy into our lives. Joy is something the “economy” does not want us to have because the “economy” depends on us buying products to assuage our fears (of growing old, of being attacked by non-existent bogeymen, of missing out).
Joy is the opposite of fear. It is hard to feel them both at once.
Clearing out fear also helps you focus on the future and your purpose. I’m working on that so I can feel less hopeless when things get rough (or my hormones go wonky).
🛕 Travel Tales
I took a walkabout in downtown Albany. Here are some things I saw:
🙉 Possible TMI
Fifty Shades of Gray
As of right now, I have not colored my hair in much longer than usual. It’s unsettling to me. The reason I haven’t done it is that I left Florida shortly after my last haircut (which is usually when I do it), and the AirBNB I was in for my first two weeks in Albany did not have the facilities to do it. (I need a kitchen sink to rinse it out the first time.)
So I’ve been staring at my hair a lot, thinking about how much I hate it when it’s gray. It’s not just the color, though. It’s the texture. My gray hair is thinner than my colored hair and all stringy and uncontrollable.
I will say that the dry northeast makes it look better than the humid south.
I haven’t decided when/if to color it again. But with so much gray, now might be a good time for a few bold highlights.
Company in the Shower
When you’re in the shower without your glasses on, and you see a small black movement above you on the ceiling. You realize there’s a spider up there, and he keeps losing his grip because of the warm moisture that’s rising from the shower.
He drops down 6 inches and hovers there. Then, a few seconds later, he climbs back up his thread to the ceiling.
Feeling annoyed that you now have to stay vigilant during a time that should be relaxing, you keep one eye on the fuzzy blob (lest he tumbles all the way down to your head) and the other eye on the task of washing yourself.
Finally, he figures it out and moves to the side where he can escape the mist, and you’re back to enjoying your shower.
🌬 Capitalism Blows
The issue of AirBNB
As a follow-up to last week’s discussion about AirBNB, I follow a guy who writes a lot about housing and how the Christian community (his main audience) should stop hoarding housing and start making sure people have regular housing (as opposed to short-term rentals). His newsletter is.
“Instead of creating new wealth by producing actual useable goods and assets, investors have decided to simply bid up the price of current assets, hoard them, and then rent them back to the working class at elevated rates. They then use their profits to repeat the cycle, which is why rents and prices never go down and consistently go up.”
Facebook also happened to show me this public group of AirBNB hosts, obviously after eavesdropping on all my conversations about AirBNB lately. Some of the people in the group sound very professional, but some of them not so much. The best post I saw of what I read was this:
But I also saw many hosts admit that they try to manipulate people into giving them a 5-star review even if their listing isn’t worthy of one. (You can’t be a superhost unless you maintain a certain rating.) The one shithole I booked here in Albany will never be a 5-star listing. You can’t customer service your way into a 5-star review if the space is not worthy of 5 stars.
People are Strange
The host of my current fancy AirBNB wants to start renting it out annually. This seems like a good thing, but he told me he will charge the same as for a monthly AirBNB rental, which is over three times my St. Petersburg rent.
A young couple came to look at it the other night, and I got a weird feeling from them. Neither of them had jobs here yet, and they just seemed squirrely. While talking to my host, they said, “We don’t have kids or pets or friends.” Feeling sympathetic, I chimed in, “Don’t worry! You’ll make friends!” The guy looked at me without smiling and said, “It’s OK. We don’t want friends.”
Who the hell says, “We don’t want friends”??? I hope my host doesn’t rent to a couple of young psychopaths.
🌻 One Positive Thing
The Biden administration has moved to prohibit drilling in 13 million acres of pristine wilderness in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska and to cancel all drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that were granted during the previous administration.
🎓 Just started my second-to-last course for my Cornell certification, and it's going to be a bit of work!
📑 Putting some effort into a pet project I’ve been thinking about for a while.
🍁 Enjoying the now cooler fall weather in NY.
Enjoy the rest of your Sunday! 🌼