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TOTW: Fear and Decision on New Year’s Eve

oh shite, they spotted us

The date is December 31st of 2019: Governed subjects everywhere are the target of fear from state terror, channeled into obedience and acquiescence by the chilling effect of repression. Blackmailed into compliance by the economy, their subsistence on the line. Looming deadlines summon waves of dread which plummet like lead in your gut. Panic triggered by cyclic crisis flows through your nerves like strychnine.

Generalized anxiety has been called the dominant affect of our era. We all seek shelter in delusions of Safety and Security, in denial of the fact that we'll die anyways, so we should enjoy doing what we want. Everything that we want in life is on the other side of that fear, and the only path is through it.

The secret is to begin, but platitudes won't save you.

How does one find a wellspring of courage in the pit one's fears? The major ingredient for any recipe for fear is the unknown. The more certain you are about what you want and how you can get it, the slipperier you become for fear's grasp. One you're decided, what you desire becomes a goal. Only then you may consider which strategy you can employ to achieve it.

Decision precedes the courage to act. The hardest part of strategy is choice; to choose one path and eschew others. Rather than a vague aspiration, it requires saying no to whole other worlds of hopes and dreams. It requires the ruthlessness to kill all other possible versions of you, so that one may live. In a world where many worlds are possible, but only one is actualized, so are you. Projectuality demands resource commitment and time allotment.

When a strategy works, we tend to remember what was accomplished, not the possibilities discarded. When no strategy seems to work, all possibilities are up in the air, there's chaos and uncertainty. Discourse around a diversity of tactics presupposes a unity of analysis, of goals, and of strategy; such tacit coincidence is rarely the case. Even if in agreement upon a same strategy, the sequence of tactics and their specific details of execution can vary, and such details are not trivial. Any real contingency plan is supposed to be thorough rehearsals with explicit what-if scenarios.

Lack of clarity in proximate goals plus fear of risks in all directions hinders the smooth flow of initiative into immediate courses of action. You retain the initiative by knowing what matters the most to you, making fear your ally by choosing what to fear more; loosing what you value the most due to inaction, rather than the inherent risks on the path to enjoy it. The line between bold and foolhardy is an awareness of the dangers, and your capacities and limitations.

Alternatively, discarding that framework entirely; the choice to focus on the now eliminates conflicting demands and interests that aren't immediate. Turning to being fully present, paying full attention to whatever is at hand. Never letting one project overtake your life to the exclusion of everything else that matters to you.

Preparation is rational and methodical; jumping off is visceral. Hurled into becoming, we're already mid freefall. It's the fall, not the landing that makes you feel alive. It's curiosity, not certainty, that is the dimension of imagination. Anarchy lies between the pit of one's fears, and the summit of one's desires. The place is here. The time is now. We journey into the shadows and meet with the unknown. As the signpost for a new year is up ahead, our next stop is a retrospection of the things we can do better and the things we've been avoiding and putting off due to fear:

How did you overcome fear or use it in your favor? What choices did you have to make? Or alternatively: what currently gets in the way of making those choices and taking those leaps? What would you dare do if you weren't afraid? Concretely, what are your proximate goals for this year?

Thanks to Anonymous for this Topic of the Week submission (e-mail: