One of my favorite sayings comes out of the middle east: Trust in God, but tie your camels to the post. (The Buddhist version might be to trust in the dharma, in life itself.) It reminds us not to be fear driven, but that we bear responsibility to do the worldly tasks like paying our bills, studying for an exam, showing up on time for work, and keeping our word.
Sometimes very difficult things can come up, and we can get very scared. Recently I was talking to someone who has been diagnosed with a very serious, chronic and incurable medical condition. Understandably, she finds it scary. Some of her friends, in an attempt to comfort her, tell her not to to be afraid, and to stay positive. How could that even be possible? Fear is going to arise. And the truth is, she needs to plan for possible eventualities in case her situation worsens. What to do?
I say that when her fear arises, to feel it fully, remembering that it will be like a wave and pass; she does not need to suppress it in an attempt to “be positive.” And when it passes, think about what camels in her life need tying and do that. Then when the fear inevitably arises again, she can also comfort herself that she is not in denial; she is doing what she can to responsibly care for herself and plan for her family.
(These camels, Phoenix and Sage, were on their way from a refuge in California to a school for special needs kids and spent the night in Washoe Valley in my friend Susan’s back yard. Photos by Bruce Czopak [BruceCzopak.wordpress.com].)