Edges: Hope and Fear
  Meditation & the Acceptance of Life
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the Edge of Hope and Fear
For as long as I can remember, I have shaped my life based on a known edge. When I was younger and more innocent than now, I lived close to this edge and enjoyed the play that occurred while standing upon it.

Most people live far from the edge, for the edge is unpredictable and risky. The great majority of people value safety and comfort over risk and possible rewards. And though people like to place themselves far from the known edge, people love to watch others dance upon it and the more these other people risk, the more exciting it is for the safe and secure observer.

The edge can be described as everything and anything that cuts down the middle between what we hope for and what we fear. When I was a boy, I loved living on the edge of people’s idea of appropriate behavior. I tried very hard to find where that edge was for most people and then play around that edge with my words and actions. I enjoyed watching people’s reactions and would further play off of them. But within my own self, this could be described as the edge of my hope for the acceptance of others and my fear of their possible rejection.

Edges are exciting because there is always the risk of losing whatever it is that plays upon it’s borders, and if we can walk away unscratched and unscathed, then the fear of the edge itself, as well as the darkness that lives on it’s less desirable side, has less power over our lives. In fact then, the border of the known edge changes and we can walk more freely around the intersection of our hopes and fears as a result.

One of our greatest shared fears as humans is the fear of losing respectability. We spend our entire lives building up a known persona and whether or not we actually believe in our own respectability, what other’s believe about us seems to be of much greater consequence.

Our professions, our friendships, our spouses, our clothes, cars and place of residence all support this persona that we choose to show to the world. Losing that persona that we invest the majority of our lives supporting and protecting is a major fear that we all hold within our minds, yet few of us are aware of. If mentioned, it is quickly dismissed as being ‘normal’, and so it is.

The edge of the fear of loss of respectability and the hope fore further gains within it is almost completely unknown because so few will risk approaching it’s borders. Thus, the reality show in which participants risk losing face in the hopes of some financial or personal reward have become extremely popular. We experience a small amount of their excitement while risking nothing ourselves.

A more consequential example would be the ability to speak out for or against an obvious wrong when the majority remains silent. Or perhaps challenging the general consensus when it’s path becomes dangerous or misguided.

Like the courageous mother bird who leaves her chicks vulnerable while she searches for much needed food, life demands that we sometimes must risk our comfort and security, though most of us would always choose otherwise. We must sometimes risk losing face, losing respect and admiration, as well as the love and support of those people closest to us in order to approach the known edge and further balance ourselves in relation to it.

We must sometimes risk the financial security that our jobs give us in order to approach the possibility of a balanced mind and thus, a further step towards happiness. We must be willing to let go of the security of being in a relationship, should that relationship become unhealthy and broken beyond repair. Fear of the social or familial implications should not discourage us from the difficult choice of approaching the edge and regaining the possibility of a healthy, balanced life.

What are our hopes and fears? Where does the edge fall between them? And most importantly: Where do we live in relation to this edge? These are not easy questions to answer, not for myself, nor the majority of people living today or in days past. But a quick look at our most influential heroes shows us that our ability to live on the edge is a vital and important aspect of humanity’s ability to proceed in a way that parallels our natural origins.

The edge is the intersection of the dual nature of reality, and should we aspire to live balanced lives, it is vital that we continue to place ourselves there. With one foot firmly placed in either side, the edge becomes surprisingly peaceful. Heroes like Jesus, Gandhi and the Buddha lived incredibly peaceful lives within the eye of the storms that raged around them.

The Buddha’s Middle Way is indeed a call to live life on the edge of two extremes, as is Gandhi’s path to balancing society through non-violent, civil disobedience. The love and forgiveness Jesus had for his persecutors even as they were killing him is the ultimate example of life lived on the edge, but we do not have to suffer such fates to learn from his sacrifice.

We have all been in situations wherein we chose to runaway rather than face a known fear. Likewise, we have all experienced that amazing feeling of freedom when a fear was approached and dispelled. Unfortunately, the large majority of us live our lives as though we are asleep. We build routines to attach ourselves and pay little heed to the true reality we have build our lives insulating ourselves from.

Hopes are now considered distant dreams instead of the constant and omnipotent force they have in our daily decisions. Fear have now been narrowed down to standard, socially accepted fears such as a fear of heights or the fear of large crowds. But fears help us choose which clothes to wear, what foods to eat, where we choose to live and who we choose to live with.

Before we are ever to approach the edge, we must first identify it’s two opposing landscapes. We must become students unto ourselves and take the risk of complete honesty, should we be able to see our personal hopes and fears clearly. And in the process, we will find ourselves already closer to the edge, closer to this middle and it’s promise of peace.

 

     
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