“The mind of man is capable of anything–because everything is in it, all the past as well as all the future.”
-Marlow in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness
In the face of the unknown, humans display a typical instinct that’s needed for survival: fight or flight.
Now that’s not to say when you’re truly frightened of something bad possibly happening you sprout wings and fly away (unless you’re a very lucky–though cowardly–person). But some people crumble under the pressure of facing the unknown; they flee, where others choose to stand and face what comes.
In film and literature, this is typical. There are always characters who act as foils to one another; one ready to fight, the other ready to run screaming. Those who stand and fight tend to be the ones that people lean more towards. I know I do.
For example, The Goonies; children who braved what they didn’t know–albeit, not for the best of reasons initially, but you get my point. Their catchphrase was “Goonies never say die.” They didn’t care that it was scary; they pushed on to do what they had to do.
In Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad is pointing out that man is capable of so much, because we have advanced, and at a certain age, the mind possesses the knowledge of the past (survival basics, the beginnings of humanity) and has the ability to innovate for the future. Now the question is; how many people are willing to utilize that capability? How many people will be confident and persistent enough to achieve their goals? It can be daunting, if not downright frightening, but I believe that if you’re willing to fight (rather than flee), the payoff can be so much bigger.
How many of us are willing to trudge through the darkness, to brave through the unknown, to do what we need to? Sometimes, in order to get what we want, to get better, to change our lives, to fix something, et cetera, we have to be willing to face something that shakes us to the core.
For me, that’s being more open (…and spiders, and intimidating phone calls, and horror movies, et cetera, et cetera).
While I may not have a clear-cut path to conquering my fears, I know that I can. We are capable. We can advance physically, technologically, and even emotionally. Conrad’s words are something to live by; man has already been where you are, and you have acquired the knowledge of that to enable you to improve upon it. Fear may linger, but remember, at some point in time, someone was facing either the same or a very similar situation as you are, and they survived. If they didn’t, you can learn from their mistakes.
It’s all about confidence and believing in your capabilities.
At the end of the day, it’s all about gumption.