We all want to feel safe and secure. I am not just talking about physical security. I’m talking about security in our finances, in our living arrangements, in our relationships, in our employment, in every aspect of our lives. We want to feel like we are in control. To be successful, we need to act as if we are in control. We need to try and focus on those things that are important to us, and as the Hagakure says, we need to keep moving forward.
However, the reality is that there are a lot of things in our lives that we have little to no control over. Our situation can change in a moment. For instance, friends of ours were alerted by a neighbor to the fact that there was smoke coming from their house. A fire had caught in the attic and by the time the fire was put out, the house was a total loss. Or in my case, I found myself at the emergency room with my wife. She needed surgery. She had an extended hospital stay. Another friend has recently passed away. She was in great shape. She was 32.
All three cases blew apart the llusion that we had things under control. We don’t. We are advised not to stress or worry over those things, but the reality is that most of us do. However, as many things as we worry about, there are so many more that we don’t. Most of those things don’t even register consciously. The advice to not worry is best. Worrying over something we can’t change just causes stress. It just wears us down. But there’s a big difference between not worrying and being oblivious to the fact that our situation can change in a moment.
That’s why I say safety is an illusion. Don’t count on safety. Don’t get caught in the trap of believing that you are and always will be safe, that your life is impregnable. Don’t live in fear, either. The happy medium is to enjoy the safety you have, so long as it doesn’t limit you, but to be prepared if that safety suddenly evaporates. Relationships crumble. Jobs comes to an end. Medical costs cause bankruptcy. Houses burn down. We can’t always prevent these life events. Let’s not pretend that we can. Instead, let us develop ourselves to handle it when we lose security unexpectedly.