We can easily forgive a child…

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. – Plato

What does that mean?
Children being afraid of the dark, that is a phase most of them go through. However, when grownups are afraid of living their lives in the open light, that is sad. I take the phrase “afraid of the light” to mean that they are hiding in a dark place, afraid to come out and be seen.

To me, this implies not hiding due to a physical deformity (like the titular Hunchback of Notre Dame), but hiding due to fear. Fear of being seen, fear of speaking or a fear of doing something and being disliked because of it. To some, it is better to hide and have nothing than to try something and risk embarrassment.

This sounds kind of like a case of terminal geeky-ness, or an uber-wall-flower. You have probably seen people who have gone through a mild phase like this. I was once that shy, but I grew out of it.

Why is strength important?
Strength is a word with many applications. Here, I intend it to mean the strength of will, strength of character, and the strength of self-respect necessary to step out of the shadows and into the light.

This strength is also a form of permission to yourself, permission to fail, permission to (occasionally) make a fool of yourself. It is also the strength to get back up after failure or foolishness and remain in the light, and not scamper back to the safety of the darkness.

Such strength is available to all of us. Some might call it will-power, others might call it learning to live with the pain of rejection. Some might call it courage, still others might pride. Whatever it is called, it is what separates the mice (scampering in the safety of the dark) from the men (living in the light).

Where can I apply this in my life?
We all have a little fear in our lives. Those who have banished fear either live well within the limits of safety, or are reckless and beyond thoughtfulness. Fear helps keep us from doing terminally stupid things. It also helps us define our limits.

We are all strong in some aspects of our lives, and timid in others. For example, I’ll take any physical challenge without much hesitation. I have done things like that all my life. Climbing, jumping, tumbling, running and falling are second nature. Climb to the top of a telephone pole and jump to a trapeze, no problem. Been there, done that (it was fun!).

However, put me in a room full of people, and you’ll find me in the corner, behind the potted plant. That’s somewhere where I am very meek. I have never have been a people person, although I am getting better at tolerating them. I prefer the company of a few close friends than a party full of people of whom I have made an acquiescence.

How about you? Where are you strong? The more interesting question, and more apropos to the quote, is where are you timid? Are you shy around new people, or is that a strength of yours? Grab some paper and write down a few aspects of your life where you would like to be stronger.

Choose one of them and take a few moments to write down where you would be if you were strong in this part of your life. You know where you are and you just wrote down where you want to go. Now all you have to do is fill in the steps in-between.

Come up with an image of yourself when you are halfway there. What would you have to do, how would you have to act to be “there”? Take a moment to think about you at the halfway point. Does it feel good being stronger in this aspect of your life?

What would you have to do to get to the halfway point? People skills, like climbing skills, require practice and repetition to get to be proficient.

For me, I started just with saying “hi” to people at work or on the street, in stores or where ever I saw them. Then I worked on eye contact and a smile. Slowly I worked up to starting conversations by asking a question or complimenting them. What will you be doing over the next few weeks as you move towards the halfway point?

As you get better at being strong in this aspect of your life, keep track of how things are going, and make adjustments. You may find that saying “hi” is easy, but the eye contact is a real problem. You might have to break the eye contact into smaller steps to climb that challenge. Just keep after it.

Once you are at the halfway point, it’s time to go the rest of the way. Simply repeat the steps for getting to halfway and get busy. If you find that what you thought was halfway was more like a quarter, just keep moving forward, don’t get frustrated or give up.

Later, you can start working on other aspects of your life, as you see the need or opportunity. Some think of this as an onerous exercise, like doing 40 push-ups. I prefer to think of it as an opportunity to get better at something, whether it be better physical shape or better social shape. Your attitude towards this will be a big portion of how easy it is to stay motivated. Don’t sabotage yourself!

We all have parts of ourselves that prefer the calm quiet and darkness of living away from the light. But we become better people (and stronger as well) as we live more and more in the light. Just be sure to bring your sun block! 8)

From: Twitter, undocumented feed (my bad)
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/p/plato121792.html
Photo by Sarah G…


About philosiblog

I am a thinker, who is spending some time examining those short twitter quotes in greater detail on my blog.
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2 Responses to We can easily forgive a child…

  1. tony says:

    are you sure that is a real plato quote? What is the reference for it?

    • philosiblog says:

      Nope, I’m not sure at all. I have yet to read everything Plato ever wrote. But mind you, there are plenty of Plato’s words that are lost to us as well, so I suppose one could always attribute it to a lost work. I cannot prove it is, yet you cannot prove it is not. I’ll let the true philosophers debate that one. I have more important things to do. 8)
      This quote is attributed to him at some of the finest quote databases on the internet, though. That should count for something! 8)
      What is important to me isn’t who said (or is alleged to have said) it, but the usefulness and applicability of the quote. What can we, in today’s world, take from the best words of philosophers and common people. I pick phrases that intrigue me or which move me in some way, and write a post about them. Hope that helps.

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