DISCLAIMER: Quasi END GAME spoiler
Sometime it’s difficult to determine when to continue pursuing something and when to decide to pursue something else. Where is the line between “giving up” and “not giving in”? When a medic is performing CPR, when do they know when to continue to revive someone and when to call it? This is something I pondered after seeing Avengers: End Game over the weekend. It comes down to determining the “snap” moment. That’s the line! Post-snap, there’s reason to believe a course can be corrected: There’s still hope. Pre-snap is a lost cause.
Life is all about what happens moment-to-moment. Truth is found in knowing the meaning in those moments: either as they unfold or upon reflection. Discovering the truth and refusing to acknowledge it is the same as trying to raise the dead.
The human brain is roughly 15 centimeters long and weighs between 1300 – 1400 grams (3 – 4 pounds). Considering how expansive thoughts can be, that’s quite a small space. Physically, not many would fear someone throwing their weight around if it were only 4-pounds to fend off. Mentally though, many cower at the thought of how much damage the mind is truly capable of dealing. A single thought can be a deathblow. There would be no such thing as suicide if this weren’t true.
When we think of outer space, that’s quite an immense space to ponder. So vast in fact that beyond outer space lies “deep space,” which is difficult to fathom. Size is relative. As Yoda said, “Judge me by my size do you?” What we’re capable of depends greatly on our perspective. We can see size as a literal framework of our perceived limitations, or as just a casing. We all share two things in common: We are human and we are earthlings. In both statements, insignificance and connection can be found and felt equally. It’s the same feeling we get when we look to the stars.
We’ve all seen the shows where someone takes a blacklight to a hotel room and reveals the true horrors that our naked eyes are blind to. This is really no different than our daily perception of life. We’d all become paralyzed by disgust if we could actually see how much filth we were surround by each and every moment. Even worse would be if we could also read everyone else’s minds. No amount of disinfectant will cleanse our paths. Life isn’t sterile. Serenity is living in the mess and being okay with good enough. What makes us better humans is learning how to become mentally unbothered by the mess we will always be living in and surrounded by.
There aren’t always precise words for everything we feel. Apparently there is no word for the “fear of authority.” However, this is something we have all felt in our lives. We can experience an “authority crisis,” yet what it means to have the fear of authority hasn’t been clearly defined. If we were to assign authority a direction it would likely be “above.” Above is defined as “in extended space over and not touching.” That seems to nicely sum up popular opinion about how we perceive authority.
Our perception colors our reality. Knowing the subtle, or sometimes vast, differences in the words we choose to define our realities is the difference between meaning what you say and saying what you mean. For example: Observation means “the action or process of observing something or someone carefully or in order to gain information.” Surveillance means “close observation, especially of a suspected spy or criminal.” So, if we view authority as something that is constantly surveilling us, we must first ask ourselves: “Are we are criminals or spies?”
Life is taxing. If we need more proof, here’s a list of synonyms: demanding, exacting, challenging, burdensome, arduous, onerous, difficult, hard, tough, heavy, laborious, back-breaking, strenuous, rigorous, uphill, stringent, tiring, exhausting, enervating, draining, sapping, stressful, wearing, trying, punishing and crushing.
Life is all of this, AND it’s also fleeting. This is important to remember: Life is fleeting, thus so beautiful. As Amie Kaufman said, “Live a life worth dying for.” There is a cost to life, and it’s a beautiful gift to be able to exist in the dichotomy of knowing that for all that taxes us, we are free to choose our perception of what can actually be taken from us.
Allodoxaphobia is the fear of opinions. In the workplace – we know this – it occurs up and down the chain of command. It’s not a problem of title – it’s the result of incompetent listening. We are all able to rise above our incompetence. The first step is to stop listening to the one voice that betrays us most; the voice of our egos. The voice that will always be loyal to rationalizing our weaknesses as the fault of external forces. When we silence our egos, we open ourselves up listening with intention. Listening for the purpose of actually hearing what others have to say, and thus allowing us the opportunity to respond with clarity to what was actually said – not what we took offense to or what made us defensive.
If we ever find ourselves in a position of leadership, the following quote from Andy Stanley is powerful: “Leaders who refuse to listen, will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing helpful to say.” No matter how long we’ve held a title or how long our tenure, listening respectfully and equally to everyone’s ideas is how we get better at what we do. The better we get at what we do, the better we serve those we lead.
When it comes making decisions based on instinct, it’s important to consider our physiology. Two people are sat next to each other on a roller coaster. Both have sweaty palms, their hearts are racing and they have butterflies in their stomachs. The only difference is that one of them loves roller coasters and the other is terrified of them. It’s the same physiological result for two completely different anticipations – fear and excitement. Our experiences help us train our physiology. We can’t ignore the data.
Similarly, when it comes to making decisions based on instinct, we have to think beyond our immediate emotional response, because that emotional response will soon pass and we’ll be left beholden to any consequences of our decisions made on instinct alone. Sometimes we fear the idea of something more than we’ll actually fear the reality of it. When we choose not to ignore the data of our experiences, and allow our common sense to usurp our surface senses, sound decisions are made. Our fear response is an indicator that we’ll need to demonstrate vulnerability to push through some discomfort, but that’s how we grow.