Monday, 19 April 2010

Fear of Nothing

For the past week or so I have been looking back and remembering events and people from my past. They bring a warm glow and a deep sense of joy to remember people who you shared very intimate and meaningful moments with. I sometimes worry though when I get into such reflective moods that involve my looking back. There can be nothing worse than having to listen to the musings of the past. My students used to remind me frequently they were not really interested in yesterday but tomorrow seemed interesting. Anyway I am reminded frequently that time moves ever onward, every time I go into my wallet and the moths have cleared I see my bus pass looking at me and reminding me. Even worse the man who lives at the back of my shaving mirror keeps telling me.

Does age bring anything worthwhile? I am told it has helped me mellow, my family do not agree. I am told it has helped me be less reckless, neither I nor my family agree. I am told it makes me more thoughtful before I speak, then why do I keep putting my mouth in gear before engaging my brain? So have I learned anything?

There is a story of the general who with his army was taking village after village into the control of his ruler. One day before he attacked a village the villagers on hearing of his coming all fled except for the old sage. Curious the general on hearing about this old sage went to see the old man. When he was not greeted with the respect he thought he deserved or bowed to as a victor ought to be he flew into an angry rage. "You fool," he shouted as he reached for his sword, "don't you realize you are standing before a man who could run you through without blinking an eye!” But despite the threat, the old man seemed unmoved. "And do you realize," he replied calmly, "that you are standing before a man who can be run through without blinking an eye?"

Have I learned anything? One great and important thing I have learned. I do not fear tomorrow no matter what it might bring. I have had too many mornings to worry about them anymore. When I think of all the times I have fretted needlessly, worried to no point it seems that the greatest of things is to know that tomorrow is not something I can do much about.

I can though make the very most of today without blinking an eye. This is the way of Tao.

This blog is linked to my other where I discuss the art used:-The Boatyard


  1. Thanks Ralph - really enjoying my morning readings - and hearing about your life and your art

  2. Hello Ralph, I have found the things I worry about happening, didn't come to pass. It was the things I didn't expect that rocked me! As for growing older, I am somebody who dislikes all change. I can cope with the physical side of age but it is the loss of loved ones and your own death walking towards you (hoping ambling slowly) that I find so distressing. I should learn to say YES to it all instead of resisting. Enjoy your day!

  3. Your reflections without blinking an eye are like a refreshing springtime-breeze to me; without fearing No-thing...

  4. Fabulous thoughts and lessons to be learned, as always Ralph. I had to laugh at your thinking you've not learned from mistakes of the past as you make them again and again. I am reminded of Paul's (Saul's) words in the NT when he speaks of doing the things he does not want to do. And I am reminded of myself who thinks like you think much of the time!

  5. Hi Ralph, my husband turned 66 yesterday and I know he'll appreciate you're post. Me, I like change and though I may blink, it's only for a moment.

  6. I think age opens one's eyes to the things one would like to achieve .... but no longer the speed or energy with which to achieve!

    On learning from past mistakes.....what are mistakes? Aren't they the tools of learning?

  7. awesome post, ralph! one time the wise voice told me, "don't try to figure it out, just celebrate" (it was shortly after sept. 11th and i was frightened and worried and stunned). i am still trying to live celebrate rather than cogitate!

  8. George Bernard Shaw: Youth is wasted on the young.

    I think that age brings the awareness that humility is better than pride, that there is more to learn than we know or can, and that life is short and precious.

    It also means coming to grips with a body that doesn't bend as much as it used to nor heal as quickly.

    As my friends say, it beats the alternative!