Yesterday, I wrote on regret. It’s not the most interesting of topics for us because we really aren’t a society that focuses on the past. Most of us know very little about what happened in history unless you count what is written in the newspapers. While I am writing on something future tonight, I do urge us all to learn from the past. (I am intensely interested in ancient philosophy for instance.)
Fear though, is about the future. Now some of you may be saying “I’m afraid of something right now!” Yes. You are. However, you could also be regretting something right now, and that regret is centered on an event in the past. Fear is unusual in that it is centered not on an actuality but a potentiality.
Any time of fear is more often a “What if?” than anything else. Some cases might be more certain. A cancer patient with a terminal case is aware of death coming. However, he still fears a future event. (How painful will it be? What will happen to those left behind? Am I ready to meet God?)
However, none of these are present realities. Now there is a sense in preparing for the future, but there is a wrongness in being anxious about that which isn’t a reality yet. While I consider myself good at budgeting, I will admit that from time to time, I can still have one payment I need to make and soon I’m imagining that I’m going to go broke.
We can make all of those future things reality? If there is a 1% chance something bad will happen and a 99% chance that it will not, we will focus on the 1% and before too long, we will add a couple of zeros to that number. Then, when it doesn’t happen, we will realize we were worrying for nothing. It brings to mind Mark Twain’s saying of “I’ve feared many things in my life. Some of them actually happened.”
In philosophy, we can speak of that which is not and that which is. I will say the past is that which is and the present is that which is. The future is not yet though. Why do we spend so much time worrying about what is not yet? We can prepare because we know there will be a future, but can we worry for we do not know what will happen either for good or for bad? (Aside from the second coming of Christ.)
Whatever thing you fear, picture if it has a future connotation to it. If you are being mugged by someone for instance, which I hope doesn’t happen, your fear will often consist of “wills.” “He will rob me.” “He will murder me.” “He will seriously injure me.” None of these are present and they keep you from acting in the present.
What do I wish to ultimately convey? Fear is a future emotion and we have no place for it. We are the people who need to deal with what is and not with what may be. Fear is always temporary and not focused on what is actual yet, merely potential. Prepare by all means, but do not fear. Remember who is in charge of time.