Spectator Sport

Some years ago, in Tulum, Mexico where I was training in Reiki, a Mexican shaman, eyeing my tiny bit of chubbiness, pointed out that it was because I was an American. I thought he meant it was because I always had plenty to eat. But no. “You Americans are so full of fear,” he said. “You build up fat as a protection from the world.” Well.

But he was right. Just look at how many guns we have in this country. We are afraid of each other, and for no good reason. We are not at war on our soil. We are a rich nation. There are pockets, of course, of poverty and violence. But the majority of us are comfortable, and the majority of us are safe.

We are fed the idea of virtual violence; our adrenaline is stimulated and pumped up. Without an outlet, the adrenaline festers, feeding an illusory fear self-constructed to counter our complacent lifestyle. We want to feel something, but we have edited the actual adventure that makes us feel alive, out of our lives.

Many years ago, in a storm at sea, I faced the certain, in my view, extinction of me.  It was an uncharted emotion and I felt rank, physical fear. I remember feeling surprised that facing death was not a noble feeling at all. It was a gritty, stripped down feeling without any room for the niceties of decoration.

 I thought to myself I’m going to fight this storm for three days and in the end, it will win because it is so much stronger than me (and oddly, the storm did last for three days). But in the long hours of fighting to stay alive, I realized something about myself. I realized that I don’t give up. I realized that I will die trying. That was a very good thing for me to find out about myself then and it is a very good thing to know about myself now.

But I wouldn’t know it if I hadn’t been forced, by my real adventure, to find it.

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