Fear Is Many Tomorrows, Courage Is One TodayBusiness
Rafe was quiet for a long while. Paul could see the bank building looming up ahead. Finally Rafe broke the silence. “Who said anything about endings?”
“What? What endings?”
“You accused me of only picking out happy endings. Do you think Jack O’Mara will never struggle with the bottle again after his award? Or that the old man and his wife won’t know loss and loneliness? There’s only one ending in life, and whether it’s happy or sad depends on your perspective.”
“So why didn’t you take me to those days? To Jack O’Mara fi ghting to keep his sanity, or that old man weeping over the loss of his wife? That would have given me a whole different—perspective—wouldn’t it?”
“Not really, Paul, because even though Jack must always struggle, the struggle always makes him stronger. And even though the old man lives his last years alone, he fi nds his own inner peace through his loneliness. Remember how I said that I can see time the way an eagle in the sky looks down upon the railroad tracks? Well, from that perspective there really are no endings at all. Every time you round a corner or enter a tunnel and think that it’s an ending, I know that you could just as well call it a beginning. Or a middle.”
DON’T GET CRUSHED BETWEEN THE ANVIL OF YESTERDAY’S REGRETS AND THE HAMMER OF TOMORROW’S WORRIES.
Paul’s image was cursing the lack of parking spaces in the garage. Finally he pulled into the handicapped stall, looking both ways to make sure no one was watching.
Rafe and Paul followed him toward the building.
“You see, Paul, fear is worrying about all the different tomorrows. Fear is worrying about the bad days that may or may not come, and even worrying about the good ones because you know they can’t last. You can dream of the future, plan for it—those are good things to do—but you can’t control all the tomorrows. You’ll have some good ones, and you’ll have some bad ones.”
Paul’s image looked at his watch and fi dgeted while they waited for the elevator. Rafe looked at the two Pauls and smiled. “The more vividly you anticipate the bad days, the more certain you can be they will come. I think we’re about to see something like that happen now.”
The elevator door opened, revealing a cab jammed full of people. The door closed, leaving Paul’s image standing outside. He kicked the door with a curse and glared again at his watch as if by sheer force of will he could stop the fl ow of time. Then he stalked off toward the staircase.
Rafe and Paul hurried to follow Paul’s image down the stairs. Paul smiled to himself, knowing that right now his image was anticipating that the door would be locked at the bottom. What if I could tell him—tell myself—that it’s really not locked? Paul wondered. How much wasted emotional energy he would save. They followed Paul’s image through the lobby toward the conference room.
HAVE THE COURAGE TO STOP WORRYING ABOUT ALL THE POSSIBLE TOMORROWS
AND THE TROUBLE THEY MIGHT BRING, AND GIVE YOUR WHOLE ATTENTION TO THE ONE TODAY IN WHICH YOU ALWAYS LIVE.
“To be afraid is to live among all the many frightening tomorrows as if they were certain to happen. To be courageous is to close off all those tomorrows and devote your attention and energy to the one today that is the only thing you ever experience with certainty.”
Rafe stopped Paul for a minute. Without a word he extended his arm toward the crowded bank lobby. It was an obvious message: Most of the people were only partially there. Their minds were elsewhere. Many of them appeared frightened, Paul noted as he looked more closely.
“Another way people frighten themselves is by creating many imaginary tomorrows in which everything is all right, into which they can escape from the pain and uncertainty of dealing with today. Either way, living among the many possible tomorrows will distract your attention from how you must think, feel, and act on this one today in order to pursue your purpose with courage.”
Paul’s image opened the conference room door, stood for a moment like Daniel at the mouth of the lion’s den, then went in. “Let’s go see how you do with this today,” Rafe said, bringing a reluctant Paul along with him.