Recently, I was bitten by a yellow Scorpion.
Fortunately, the Scorpion’s venom wasn’t too poisonous, its effects were mild and the numbness and tingling went away eventually.
Compared to my snakebite near-death experience a little over a year ago, this time there was no drama, no panic, and no pain.
Just me and my thoughts… Thoughts about life’s impermanence, about the fear of death, and about what it truly means to be fully alive.
In those moments of silence, when the poison had started to take effect, I was reminded of how fragile life really is, and that no matter how well I’m going to take care of my body, sooner or later death will knock on my door.
What I had also come to realize during those moments was that my life is more precious, more valuable, more meaningful… because of death.
In society, we tend to pretend death does not exist, like it won’t ever happen to us. We avoid discussing it, thinking about it, reflecting on it. We do that — not because we don’t care about death, but because we’re scared shitless of it.
But here’s the thing:
The more afraid we are of death, the less we live.
In fact, The more we deny death, the more we deny life. If we’re afraid of death, we will be afraid of life also, because life brings death.
Death is not something that can be avoided. It is always there, standing patiently by our side, accompanying us in every step, every breath, and every heartbeat since the first day we were born.
With enough time everything on this planet gets dissolved..
Now, where was I? Back to my scorpion story…
With that acceptance, I grew calmer. The venom was still circulating through my veins but I felt peaceful within.
Then, out of nowhere, a word popped into my head. The word was “Faster”. I knew it meant. There was a big decision I was scared to make.
The next morning, I woke up with renewed energy and determination to follow my heart and take the risk of losing a decade-long income source.
As soon as I made the decision, I felt different in my skin. I felt space open up in my heart. I felt free… I was so attached to that income source that I clinged to it like my life depended on it.
It’s easy to forget that in order to live the life we’re called to live, we may be required to take risks, to get out there and face our fears.
To truly be alive is to live with courage. It’s only through facing our fears (and their underlying emotions) that we become alive to our authentic selves and can reach the epitome of our human potential.
The way I see it, a life without facing fears is literally like running away from life. You may feel safe, but this safety is like living inside a cell. You never quite feel free, never quite feel fulfilled — something is always missing…
Something is always missing because the very purpose of the human experience is to fully live.
A fully lived life is about courageously accepting each moment like it’s your last. It’s about loving life despite the circumstances, despite the challenges or difficulties.
A fully lived life is not about possessing, dominating, or being superior. The truly superior person knows that they do not have to prove their superiority or dominate. They know they’re special, but so is everyone else.
Fully Living is about becoming more alert and aware — that is, to be here now, with all the uncertainty that life is.
Life’s very nature is uncertain. Life can never be 100% certain, no matter how much money you have in your bank account or how secure your house is. Life is full of surprises, full of uncertainties. Nobody truly knows what is going to happen in each moment. That’s what makes it an adventure. That is life’s beauty.
Therefore, rather than resist life and its uncertainties, embrace it. Fully. Wholeheartedly.
When you do the opposite, you declare your death; it’s only in the graveyard that you’ll find complete security. As the motivational speaker and author Les Brown once said, The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry out their dream.
Courage = Risking Certainty
The word courage comes from a Latin root cor, which means “heart.”
To be courageous is to take action from the heart, despite the fear, despite the unknown, despite uncertainty. Courage involves risking one’s certainty in order to live the heart’s desires.
What we often mistake for certainty is really a deluded belief that lives in the head. As mentioned before, life’s very nature is uncertain. Therefore, to be one with life is to risk the known for the unknown, the comfortable for the uncomfortable.
Loving someone with all your heart can be uncomfortable, quitting a job you don’t like can be scary, saying “I love you” for the first time can be risky, dancing from the heart can feel dangerous…
The journey into the unknown may feel dangerous and insecure, but at the same time, exciting. Life becomes an adventure. You become more alive, more real, more fully in touch with heart and life itself.
Courage = More Heart
There’s a balancing relationship between the head and the heart. The head knows how to calculate, how to divide, how to exchange. The head lives in the past, in all that you have known.
The heart, on the other hand, knows how to give without expectation, how to love, how to be one with life. Heart lives in the future, in your hopes and dreams, in the unknown and its possibilities.
What often happens is that the head is so strong that it completely dominates the heart; it asserts its dominance and does not allow courage to grow and become a healthy muscle.
That muscle is very much needed; Despite our best intentions to feel secure, life constantly surprises us, bypassing any protections we may have. Whether we like it or not, we may be called to change, to grow, to find courage.
Responding to a change can be a challenge. We may go wrong, we may make mistakes….
Courage = Embracing Making Mistakes
Our mind wants to avoid mistakes (and the feelings associated with them), so we become frightened of doing wrong. We become hesitant. We get ourselves stuck .
However, life is a river, a river full of trial and errors. If we stop making mistakes we not only stop learning, we stop life itself. Remember, no effort is really ever wasted; all efforts contribute to your growth. It’s part of life and your own freedom to go astray.
So rather of being afraid of making mistakes, aim for the opposite: Go bold, make many mistakes, learn as many lessons as possible. Just make sure you learn from each mistake and don’t commit the same mistake again…
To accept mistakes and the challenges of the unknown, in spite fears, is what makes life worth living. And to do so, you want to start listening deeply to your heart and start choosing the unknown over the familiar. This is what it means to practice courage.
With courage comes experience, wisdom, truth — your truth, not the one you read in books or hear from other people. As you practice courage and become more accustomed to the unknown, you start enjoying the journey. The fears are there, but if you practice courage again and again, slowly those fears will disappear.
Are you ready to take a risk and release the best within yourself? Are you willing to feel the potential pain of a disappointment or “failure” and recognise how it would feel?
As I tell over in The Art of Fully Living, even a single moment of being fully alive is more gratifying than an eternity of mediocre, half-living.
Fear is at the core of our journey because it can be an extremely debilitating emotion, keeping us from playing big. Fear cripples and paralyzes. It cuts our roots and prevents us from being fully alive.
Fear comes in many forms — anxiety, tension, self-consciousness, shyness, caution, distrust, etc. — so we want to bring awareness to the many forms it takes. In fact, to some extent, all “negative” feelings are some form of fear which we repress, suppress, or project. Those feelings end up determining what we focus on, how we see life, and what we attract into it.
If you have repressed feelings of fear, for example, you will see the world as a fearful place, holding yourself back from going after your dreams and your potential, If you have a lot of anger inside of you (which is a form of suppressed fear), you will find things to vex you as you go about day-to-day life. If you have a lot of repressed grief, you will unconsciously attract more sadness into your life. And the list goes on and on.
Now, it’s important to remember that fear, like any other emotion, is energy. And no energy can be eliminated or destroyed. Fear can only be transformed. You may repress fear, but it won’t leave you. It will always be there, in the subconscious.
Here’s another thing to remember: fear on its own does not mean it has power. You, and only you, give it power. When you do so, it can completely debilitate you and drain all your energies.
So instead of giving power to fear, you want to transform it. That power can be directed elsewhere — to love, to joy, to this moment.
But before we go there, our first step is to truly understand the root of our fear. Looking deeply into it without any judgment. From where does it come? Why? What is its message?
The Root of All Fears
The main cause of fear is attachment: attachment to a desire, to people, to possessions, to ideas, to the body, to safety and security, and so on.
Fear is the shadow of ego, of identification, of “I.” And because the “I” (and all its possessions) are bound to dissolve by time, fear is there.
And that tells us, that underneath it all — underneath all fears — there’s the fear of death.
Death is the root fear; all other fears are reflections of it. As stated above, it is not something that can be avoided. With enough time everything dies.
What’s more, when we don’t accept the transitory nature of our existence, we only make the fear of death bigger and more entrenched. It is always underneath the cover.
So the first step therefore is to accept that death is coming closer to you each and every moment. Death is part of life. In fact, death defines life. It’s an integral process to life. It supports the process of renewal, of transforming something old into something new.
In fact, it’s only natural that each one of us is fearful of death. There’s a great opportunity in living life, and your door may be closed forever. Your great opportunity can be taken away. You can be gone without truly fulfilling your special purpose.
What’s the Antidote, Then..?
Living purposefully, living courageously, living more fully, from the heart.
When we do that, when we live our deepest callings, when we live each moment to its totality, then time disappears and with it, fear disappears.
And when death eventually comes, we can look her in the eye… more accepting… Because we have the assurance of knowing we had a life fully lived.
These words were inspired by not one, but many wise teachers. With sincere thanks and gratitude.
Tal Gur is an impact-driven entrepreneur, author, and investor. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living - 1 Man, 10 Years, 100 Life Goals Around the World, has led him to found Elevate Society and other impact-driven ventures.