“The offspring of fear is mediocrity.”-Hilton Johnson
When I was a reservist, we would sometimes go up to Fort Leonard Wood on maneuvers and one of the things that we did was go out to the woods and learn how to read a map.
In order to determine how to find our way to where we wanted to go, we had to shoot what they call an azimuth or a direction in which to begin moving. Before we could shoot the azimuth, however, we had to figure out exactly where we were. It is certainly a rule that we cannot get to where we want to go unless we first know where we are right now.
If you ask anyone what the number one thing that you need to do to overcome fear is “to face it”, but that’s a just a meaningless cliche that everyone uses. It doesn’t really mean anything. What does it really mean. For me, I have to first face the fear of where I am and understand how I got here. I realize that I can’t get to where I want to go without first understanding where I am.
I know I can express to people how important it is to have courage. The mentoring that I got from my mentor when I was a child was to play it safe. He tried to give me what he thought was good advice, which was not to do things that were too risky.
I rebelled against that advice and determined to find another way to get out of the situation I was in so I determined that I took a trip from Pennsylvania to California where I didn’t know anyone and thought I would get a job. I returned to Pennsylvania after just a few days because I knew I would never make it. I had not prepared for that transition. I then tried to get a job, but only could find mediocre jobs that hardly paid the bills. Therefore I joined the Navy so that I could get away from the situation. The list of situations goes on. I can name situation after situation where I would try to find the shortcut to the success I was looking to find. My life was like a fad diet. A get rich quick scheme. It never led anywhere, but toward looking for the next and better shiny object upon which to set my sights, always desiring, never achieving, never attaining the success to which I searched. Even though I seemed to be taking risks, those risks were motivated by fear.
Put in the work, I saw the moves as a means to an end to get me to where I wanted to go in my life. How were those things to help me take me to where I wanted to go rather than going to school and getting my degree, I was looking for a shortcut. I was looking for a shortcut because I was listening to fear, and I set my course to show my mentor that he was wrong. I thought that doing these things would be the easiest way, but it was motivated by fear because I was afraid that he was right. I still hear that voice in my head telling me that I am not good enough and that I am not able to do what it takes to fulfill my dreams. I have been listening to a lie and trying to run from it. Instead of becoming the writer that I know I can become, I have settled for a life of mediocrity.
As Thoreau said in Walden, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats.”
I know where I am. I have my bearings. I have found the underlying fear that motivated me thus far. I know the landmarks of this place and have found it on the map of my life. I know my destination and I can now begin shooting the azimuth and begin my journey out of this valley of mediocrity.