Discover more from Ideothetic Flow
Managing fragility, fear of loss, and taking risks
Updates on my self development
Welcome to Ideothetic Flow, my newsletter sharing my reflections on finding balance, sufficiency, and security.
If this resonates, do subscribe so we can stay connected. I post every 4 weeks.
I took a stray kick while sparring 2 weeks ago, leaving me with a slight wrist injury. It seems like a small matter but I had essentially lost the use of an arm for where any strength was needed.
Its scary how fragile we are that one small injury and everything is thrown off. I'm quite keenly aware that even if I stay injury free, I won't be able to keep this up as I get older. Whatever I gain now will slowly erode.
I had another stark reminder about fragility just recently. Our family was just in Siam Paragon on Monday, a day before the shooting this week. When living in Singapore, its rare for such events to feel so close, and if we had chosen to travel just a day later, it might have been all the difference.
If I am doing something I am passionate about, I want to make meaningful progress. I want to immerse myself, and I want to get better. The reality though, is that meaningful progress must always come with risk. Getting stronger requires pushing harder at training. Career growth is only possible with challenging projects and tough calls. I feel the same thing when I watch Joy climb a tower, and have to resist the urge to stop her or step in.
Yet, being the things I am passionate about, it would hurt most if I lost them. How then can I bring myself to take those risks, so that I can engage meaningfully in whatever I am doing.
One way to be invulnerable to loss is to have no attachments. But without attachments, without passion, there will be no drive to go forward. It would also be a terrible way to live, without real meaning.
I know I want to be making progress in my hobbies and my career. I want to be a good parent and friend. I also want to be enjoying life - travelling, eating good food, buying nice things. How do I balance all these wants, against the fear of losing all these things.
I draw some inspiration from Seneca's letters. For a start, it is perfectly normal to have and want things, and thus rational to take steps to avoid loss - in moderation. One should lock the doors when going out, or try to do good work at a job they enjoy. There is no need to be reckless.
It is the fear of loss that crosses into irrationality, and makes us do counterproductive things. It makes us stay in our comfort zone, suspend our values, or even be willing to hurt others.
There's two things I can do to manage that fear.
The first is to suspend my imagination. Seneca writes about how humans are gifted with foresight, but it also causes us to imagine how things can go wrong, beyond the actual danger ahead. Its a basic problem of overthinking.
I am very guilty of this. I've put aside so many things because I start to predict how difficult or problematic they may be, and then finding some excuse to get myself out. I recall as a child checking if it would rain so I couldn't go for swimming lessons, and then later as an adult finding excuses to avoid socialising.
The other is to have confidence that I can adapt to loss. For the stoics, loss is not something to be immune to. Instead, it is to be felt, endured, and adapted. Of course there is a limit to this, if I were dead for instance. But in most things, I can heal, I can adapt, I can move on. I can accept that it is still life without whatever it is that I lost.
I started this piece talking about how my injury affected my martial arts. Somewhere in the last few weeks, I came across this video, where a one legged man successfully throws his opponent in a jiu-jitsu tournament. Its an amazing feat, and a lesson for me that it is always possible to adapt.
An update on my self development journey
Last post I wrote briefly about my plans to use the rest of the year to focus on some self development. Here's some brief thoughts on how that is going:
Content: Cutting out the habit of reaching for social media in downtime and transitions is still challenging. I've reduced a little, but have not been able to wean myself off as much as I would like. Something I'm going to try is to make it a habit to pass time by looking at things I have written rather than going to instagram or youtube.
Stoicism: I've found some benefit in simply writing down each day that “I am grateful to exist today”, it really sets the mood for the day and I find myself with less negative emotions.
For tarot based reflections and journal prompts, check out @thecenterline_ on IG
An open invitation for conversation.
If you would be interested in having a short, targeted chat about anything, drop a reply and i’d be most happy to schedule a coffee or a video call. Perhaps there was a post that resonated which you want to unpack, a problem you want to talk through, or just want someone to listen to whatever is on your mind.
The agenda is purely up to you, and I promise a duty of confidence over anything shared.
Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts, start a conversation, or simply connect over a chat. You can reply this email, leave a comment, or reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you enjoyed reading this and would like to support my writing, do subscribe or share this with a friend.
Take care and have a good week!