Recently I was reminded of the film Defending Your Life. Writer/director/star Albert Brooks creates the theory of an afterlife that, while funny, smart and completely fantastic, never strays from somehow being believable. Dead from a car accident (he was messing with the radio), Dan Miller (Brooks) finds himself in a scarily efficient vision of purgatory known as Judgment City. A prosecutor and a defense attorney are assigned to put Dan on trial and decide if he will be "moving on" or "going back." Their evidence comes in the form of film clips exhibited in the courtroom. The prosecutor quickly gains the edge due to the number of very funny bad decisions Miller has made, almost always based on fear. It is kind of a interesting story - isn't it? What if we are judged at the "Pearly Gates" based on our living a fearless life? Would you get in? Or would you - like Dan Miller - be accused of making decisions in your life based on fear?
I have been playing with this idea since I was reminded of the film a few days ago. I have been looking at my life - where I have been fearless - and where I have let fear hold me back. It is a really interesting exercise - I encourage you to play along! I do believe that there is some healthy fear - that we should listen to - the fear that we can feel in the pit of our stomach that tells us to stop and wait - because somehow our body knows that there is an oncoming vehicle at 100 miles a hour - even if our mind does not yet. I always think we should pause and listen to those messages from our gut. But then there is the mind fear - the what ifs and the should I's? Those are the mind messages that keep us from living a fearless life that robs us of our full potential.
It can be addicting - living fearlessly. And living fearlessly can mean many different things to different people.
For me, living fearlessly has been interwoven with living cautiously. I have not been flying on my trapeze without a net. I have a tight support system of friends, family and practitioners that I count on - and an established career. Right now - for me - that works. I am able to grab the bar and fly through the air! I can feel still feel the breeze through my hair....I can still feel that very sensation of wonder.....will I make it to the other side? By having a strong and steady net underneath me - I have found that I can truly fly into places that I have never thought possible. The net has served me.
For me - learning to live fearlessly came from learning to live shamelessly! I could not have done one without the other. We all have shame, and fear. We all worry that somehow if we put it out there - we are going to fail in some way and be judged. For me - the process began by me learning how to make peace with myself first.
My story begins with me having to learn how to get naked! Oh yes - Imagine me - in Dan's place at the Judgment City - Trying to explain it all!! Just Shameless!