Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness. It comes from letting the world tickle your heart, your raw and beautiful heart. You’re willing to open up, without resistance or shyness, and face the world.—Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche
In my last blog post, My Two Friends: Fear and Fearlessness, I described the conversation that tends to go on between fear and fearlessness. Recognizing our ever-present choice to show up for life or to shut down is part of the process of waking up from the dream state of our ego.
I’d like to take you on a deeper dive.
Imagine you’re driving in your car and one of your favorite songs comes on the radio. In that exact moment, the sun is setting directly in front of you. Singing at the top of your lungs, you head into the glowing sky ahead. You feel lit from within. The world is glowing and so are you. You didn’t set up this perfect scenario. You didn’t predict it would happen—the song and the sunset unfolding in front you—and lucky for you, you were open and available to experience it.
On another day, however, this scene may have unfolded differently. Let’s say you had a frustrating day at work, and you were headed home for a stressful night of homework with your kids. The same song comes on the radio and the same spectacular sunset appears in front of you, but your experience is anything but the same. Instead of being open and available to delight in the moment, you shut down your enthusiasm. Pissed off at the day you had at work and the night ahead, you turn off the radio, ignore the sunset, and drive home drowning in your drama.
The difference between experiencing fear or fearlessness is your availability to embrace life just as it is.
When you allow yourself to be with exactly what is happening without trying to fix it or run away from it, you access your natural capacity to simply show up and experience your life—the good, the not so good, and the sort-of-in-between moments. But if you’re stuck in your busy mind, rattled with “he said, she said” and believe your perceived fears to be true, you close down to possibility and imprison yourself in your own drama.
Life is bursting with opportunities to experience all of the time, in every second.
Spontaneous sounds, smells, and scenes pop up everywhere. Some stop you in your tracks or even bring you to your knees. The sweet smell of lilacs, the cooing of a dove, or a tender exchange with your partner are all reminders to pause and embrace the precious gift of being alive.
Being fearless is to allow yourself to show up for your life—fully—no matter what is happening.
Life doesn’t always arrive wrapped up in pretty bows, music, and sunsets, does it? There are many less than ideal and downright crappy moments. There’s the good, the bad, and the ugly all wrapped up into one lifetime. If you want to awaken to the freedom of being fearless and fully alive, you’ll need to face everything—not just the sweet moments—but also every moment. To experience the highest highs, you must be available for the lowest lows, to face stuff you’re inclined to push away, avoid, or ignore. If you want to see the brightest stars, you’ll need to look up on the darkest evenings.
Face everything and avoid nothing. Denial about darkness only blocks your potential to experience brightness.
As Chögyam Trungpa said, “Real fearlessness is being willing to letting the world tickle your heart.” It’s facing the world without resistance.
This is exactly when we show up and shine.