Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Fear of Life

Mike has been through quite a trip... as a kid, he was quite shy but very smart and was one of three siblings. In school, he would get picked on and teased every now and then and he would enjoy riding his bike when he was at home. His childhood was relatively normal, nothing too dramatic happened. When he was in high school he started feeling insecure about his looks, he had a mild case of acne, which to him was severe. Others would notice his self-consciousness about his skin and would often stare at his pimples in response to the unconsciously drawn attention.

When Mike turned 19 he went to college, he picked a major he wasn't too passionate about but was told there would be good money in a career in computer programming. Mike knew little about computers but toughed it out. All through college Mike felt mostly self-conscious and quite insecure. He felt inferior and would always try to please his friends and summon up all he had to give and manufacture smiles and high energy on command. It was an interesting case, a dulled out soul with a bubbly exterior.

One day, a friend of Mike's gave him a spiritual book that talked about the possibility of becoming spiritually enlightened... Mike loved the idea since he had been looking for a way out of his dull inner life. Sure, he had friends, clothes, a job, parties to attend and plenty of company... but Mike felt dull and empty inside, he secretly felt like a phony that was running out of juice to project a happy exterior.

The book sucked Mike in, he became obsessed with spirituality. Shortly after graduation, Mike moved in with his girlfriend Laura in a cozy apartment in the suburbs, he got a job doing computer work and kept on with his spiritual seeking. Everything was relatively well, although the empty, dull, phony feeling kept on going. Mike's false exterior was really starting to get to him. Suddenly, Mike started snapping out and being rude to his girlfriend Laura, he was tired of faking those smiles and positive moods. Then his inability to uphold the phony persona started to collapse at work, and finally, it broke loose with his friends too. The ones who took most of the blow of the upwelling suppressed emotions within Mike where his Mom, Dad and brothers... they really had a piece of him... they really got to hear all his suppressed feelings about them.

Slowly Mike started becoming a wreck, he pushed most of his friends away, he lost his job and rejected his family. Laura had to pay for the rent now as Mike devoured countless spiritual books and attended dozens of spiritual seminars and consulted his spiritual guide. Mike became mostly a recluse. He didn't do much more than read books, listen to tapes and consult his teacher. It was a radical transformation and not for the better. Nobody understood, Mike was seen as sad case, a nutty wreck.

Inside of Mike's head were a bunch of spiritual ideas and thoughts about how the world should be, how people should live their lives and what people should do with their time. He believed that there was something severely wrong with the way life has gone and he was certain that there was such a thing as becoming spiritually enlightened and living in a state of bliss and passion. He continued reading books, attending speeches and talking with his master. Mike was completely unrecognizable to all who knew him, now he had switched his snappy, angry way of relating for a new spiritual persona where he was projecting love, kindness and compassion. Mike knew he was full of shit, but he kept on faking it anyway, he thought it would somehow lead him to his goal.

Crash! It wasn't too long before he couldn't uphold this really difficult show to perform continually, Mike became an even greater jerk again. Laura couldn't take Mike anymore and she divorced him. Mike ended up living with his parents again. Yikes, what a blow to Mike's spiritual ego.

One day, Mike's Dad, who in Mike's eyes was a very unenlightened, uncreative and unfulfilled fool, asked Mike a simple question: "My son, why are you so afraid of life?" Something happened inside of Mike's brain, this question put things in a way that Mike had never thought of before, it made Mike see the truth that he had always refused to see, he was terrified of life and the world. Most of what he always did was simply an avoidance of life, an avoidance of the world, an avoidance of living.

This question triggered Mike's greatest realization, what he called his greatest enlightenment: "Life is for the living"

From then on, ordinary Mike made a vow to live his life simply. He became the CEO of a computer programming firm and remarried; he had two beautiful children and lived happily ever after.


I wrote this story to reflect a common tendency in people who have a "spiritual personality." I happen to be one of these and I happened to experience this fear of life way more deeply and profoundly than I have ever experienced the fear of death. Some people fear living more than they fear dying, and if this is the case for you, I hope this story inspires you to go out there and LIVE THE LIFE THAT YOU WERE GIVEN!

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