I've been thinking about this on for years now. I'm still not 100% sure what the entire tapestry of the issue is all about, but it's coming together and I felt the need to share it with you today, so I am.
I look around me every day, at all the people I meet, and all the situations I see...I see fear for much, in so many people, for so many reasons, and I find myself detached from it - I can't relate completely to the situations some people find themselves afraid in, because I just don't feel fear the way I used to.
Maybe this is a common trait among people who have been almost dead, once, if not several times. Once you've almost been there, and experienced enormous pain, and survived, and been able to tolerate it all, being afraid seems...well, kind of a waste of energy. Being afraid of anything seems like a waste of energy. That is, when it concerns oneself and not others: being afraid of one's child drowning when he or she has just fallen off the boat is different than being afraid for oneself when taking off in a light aircaft on one's first solo flight!
Am I think skinned now? I don't think so. Perhaps a better analogy would be that I am like a well equipped wild human now. Things are thrown at me, and I have the coping mechanisms to catch them and turn them into...well, whatever I like, really. Fear or debt; fear of losing everything; fear of growing old alone; fear of being alone; fear of missing a deadline; fear of crashing in a plane...all those fears and so many more are inapplicable to my sense of consciousness now.
I'm not afraid of death. I'm not afraid of pain. I am not afraid of the combined nature of the two and I can tell you that with complete honesty. Yet I do care about myself - I don't want to be hurt, or die...I'm just not afraid of either one any more. So I milk every day for what it is, being aware that either death or pain, or both, could come to me any time, or perhaps not for many years.
The exception to these rules of course, is my belly: it holds a child, so it is out of bounds as far as death is concerned. But I think that goes without saying.
When people say "youth is wasted on the young" I can see it. Not being afraid any more, I am grateful for my life, my youth, my vigor and my strength. I know what I have, and what I have to give to other people and the world. I weigh up the risks, and the risks of never doing what I ought to be, and maybe take the plunge more than someone else might...but in the end, I still feel that is a good thing - for me, and for the people around me.
If I die tomorrow I can say "I spent yesterday working on an exciting graphic design project, baking bread and creating a surprise brand new bedroom for my daughter, loving my family..."
It's simple, but good enough for me.