Sunday, April 15, 2007

On becoming fearless - Arianna Huffington

I promised this would be continued.... From the Stacks challenge

This is not a self-help book. It is neither a memoir nor an anodyne for the fearful. Some of Huffington's principles can be found in books that are anodynes for the fearful woman. Abandon false security, take risks, do not be deterred by those who would call you a bitch.

For that kind of advice, we don't need Arianna. We do need her, though, to understand that the goal of the fearless is not only personal. The stated goal of too many books and media shrinks is too small. Arianna wants to create fearless leaders who can change the world.

The thread that knits this book together is both small and huge. Begin, she says, by withdrawing, meditating, thinking, and creating a inner, quiet place, a true sanctuary that always will be intact and accessible.

Examine, then, your enemies, whether they are people in your life, phobias, local iniquities, global disasters, or the ingrained toxins that want to repel the possibility of change. Do not allow these heaps of foes to dishearten you. To believe that you will only be able to develop fearlessness when the heap becomes smaller is to live behind an counterproductive wall. Vanquish the next enemy, then the next, then the next.

(This imagery reminded me of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the Bardo Theodol, in which the path to the next life is strewn with things that frightened you. You must challenge those fears to grow into a higher life.)

From your own center, says Arianna, let your action be guided by the compassion and interconnectedness that Sue Smalley (who contributes a brief essay) believes to be encoded in human DNA. (Arianna believes that we have a "Fifth Instinct" for spirituality, also hardwired.) Mythic images may serve as guides for this life - Hestia, for example, or Hermes - and may teach us how to be fearless.

My favorite part of this book showed Arianna's own awakening to the might of the status quo. Early in her career, she wrote a biography of Picasso that enraged the art world because she dared to write the blunt facts of Picasso's relationships with women. These facts showed him to be a mysogynist despot in his private life. The art establishment howled -- but, but, he was a great man! a genius! Geniuses deserve a little slack in how they interact with mortals!

Arianna weathered the tempest and went on to write, speak out, run for political office, and develop The Huffington Post. She embodies fearlessness, and this book may inspire some of the same to you.

(And I still want to be Arianna when I grow up!)


1 comment:

Paula said...

I am so glad you posted that review.
Now I can't wait to read it!