In his book, An Astronaut’s Guide To Life, Chris Hadfield emphasizes the importance of paying attention to the small things. His ideas resonated with me and these are some of my personal precepts I gleaned from his book.
Sweat the small stuff and slash your fear.
I think the root of most of our fears, especially those fretful reels of “what ifs” on rewind in our heads emerge from missing information. Most “cerebral cinematics” keeping us awake at night are spliced together with snippets of limited information that we often perceive to be unpredictable and thus out of our control. Some of this information is easily accessible and it just takes a level of intention to search it out and create systems for easy retrieval. Minimizing some of these apprehensions requires a discipline to search out the facts in order to form and hold a broad understanding of all possibilities. The parameters of any given problem are often much more expansive after further inquiry and thus less frightening. Hadfield suggests that,
“fear comes from not knowing what to expect and not feeling you have any control over what’s about to happen. When you feel helpless, you’re far more afraid than you would be if you knew the facts. An astronaut who doesn’t sweat the small stuff is a dead astronaut. Part of it is ‘how do you deal with fear?”
When my junk drawer can no longer be slammed shut I reluctantly take stock of what’s knocking around together and empty out knickknacks I no longer want. There may be answers and even insights if I resolve to organize my junk drawer of fears. Maybe I can repurpose this junk drawer by taking a little more time to scrutinize their diminutive purpose in my life.
Competence is not dazzling – it’s discipline. Hadfield defines competence this way:
“Competence means keeping your head in a crisis, sticking with a task even when it seems hopeless, and improvising good solutions to tough problems when every second counts. It encompasses ingenuity, determination and being prepared for anything.”
Competence requires courage. Courage to gaze beyond the clutches of our perceptions and consider our past and present choices.
“Life off Earth is in two important respects not at all unworldly: you can choose to focus on the surprises and pleasures, or the frustrations. And you can choose to appreciate the smallest scraps of experience, the everyday moments, or to value only the grandest, most stirring ones.”
I want to experience wonder every day and sometimes it will randomly happen but most of the time those “ah ha!” moments are a result of my discipline to clear the landscape of niggling irritations and fears so that I can appreciate the spectacular. I did some junk drawer cleaning today. Part of the task was writing this post and experiencing sparks of wonder in the process.