Mortal Enemies

On a personal note, I’d like to spend a moment discussing my mortal enemies. They are fear and boredom. I believe that fear is the most powerful impediment to human achievement. The good news is that knowledge conquers fear. I have found that most of the things I have been afraid of have not been worthy of my fear. Winston Churchill once said, “I have spent the majority of my life worrying about events that never came to pass.” He, too, battled fear, and it was knowledge that saw him through. When I have taken the time to educate myself about fearful situations, I have found that my fear has usually been unreasonable. And once it is clear that fear makes no sense, all that is required to overcome it is courage.

Courage to overcome fear is something that develops over time. I once heard someone say that you have to do the thing you fear before you get the courage to do it. The idea is that overcoming fear builds courage, but you still have to take that first step, even though you’re afraid. Quite right. I have internalized that to mean that I need to push myself out of my comfort zone on a regular basis. I need to find things to be afraid of and then conquer them. So I’m a small-time adrenalin junkie. The more I face down fear, the better I feel. More importantly, the more I practice overcoming contrived fearful situations, the better equipped I am to overcome real-life situations that might otherwise hinder me in life. Practice makes perfect, as they say, but not for long. I have also found that the more time that elapses between conquests of fear, the harder it is to overcome new situations. That means I can never rest on my past exploits. Such is the battle. But I’m in it for the long haul, because I am better if fear does not have its way with me. The same is true for boredom.

I can’t stand to do the same thing day in and day out. It drives me crazy. I bore very easily. So my life is a constant effort to keep things interesting. But this is not a problem. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Efforts to keep boredom at bay have pushed me to engage in activities that have magnificently enriched my life. I am a musician because I get bored easily. I am an athlete (though not a very impressive one) because I bore easily. I read history and science and philosophy because I bore easily. I write books and articles because I bore easily. I travel because I bore easily. I surround myself with dynamic people because I bore easily. All in all, my intolerance for boredom is perhaps my greatest personality trait. I hope it never goes away. OK, I’ll stop now before this gets boring.


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