The Torment of Precautions

The torment of precautions often exceeds the dangers to be avoided.  It is sometimes better to abandon one’s self to destiny.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

The notion of abandoning oneself to destiny is an interesting one. It implies an active yielding to something larger than oneself, a hidden power which has bearing upon one’s fate. This yielding or “abandon” as Napoleon called it accelerates the pace of purposeful living, much as a kayaker speeds toward his destination once he leaves the terra firma of the river bank.

The challenge, of course, lies in yielding to the correct influences. There are many forces at work in the world, all of which are competing for your attention. If you tense up as you enter the rapids and make a panicky turn for a quiet eddy in order to escape the pressure, you will soon find yourself caught in the eddy line. This swirly and unsteady line represents to the kayaker Napoleon’s “torment of precautions.” If the entry is unplanned, uncoordinated and the result of an inner panic, it is likely to do more harm than good.

I’ve observed over time that many people, when they approach the edges of their comfort zone, tend to brace against the surge of energy they are receiving from that hidden, higher power rather than yielding to it. They feel the whoosh of energy which comes as they relax (intentionally or accidentally) in the center of the current of life and instead of yielding or abandoning themselves to it, they tense up or channel the energy into some form of panic. This redirection results in withdrawal or aggression, both of which disrupt the natural flow of life.

The greater part of human history is the collective record of man’s choices relative to this one point.

3 thoughts on “The Torment of Precautions

  1. Zach

    You can’t think your way into the correct influences, either. What is in your heart is the way in which you will go, and when you are of a pure heart you can release yourself to the eddies and the currents of destiny without fear of releasing yourself to the world’s ills.


  2. David R

    Overcaution is one of the characteristics that defeats wisdom, it would seem. There is an appropriate care and reserve that should always be part of a wise person’s approach, but there are also risks to be taken and opportunities to be seized while they are ripe, and this is where fear can paralyze to unfortunate end. No one has achieved success in any significant field without letting go of the bank at the opportune time. Rarely does success come without a variety of associated failures.

    There is a destiny for each one – an inherently benevolent destiny, but that destiny will never be known without hearty participation in the overall process and at particular points of nexus!


  3. Coco

    Having had the experience of taking the bull by the horns and also making what I considered in the moment was a strategic retreat I understand your point. Another example of this is in childbirth. When you get to the point of transition it can seem scary to move when in fact changing your position, relaxing and letting the intensity mount as it will, can often bring some physical relief. While the physical relief is welcome, the mental relief as you stop resisting gives you the space to think calmly about other assists such as breathing. Learning to go with the flow is always predicated on your overall inclination that is determined by the content of your heart.


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