The German philosopher Schopenhauer said that "life is evil because it's basic stimulus is pain." He believed that everything we do is motivated by discomfort, or the fear of discomfort... and it is in that last bit that I find the flaw in his thinking.
You see, from where I sit, it's not discomfort that motivates us, not at the root of things. It's fear. Many people (professional athletes spring to mind) have jobs and daily lives that routinely hammer them against an anvil of pain, discomfort, and injury, and yet they through themselves into the breach again and again, day in and day out. They seem to enjoy their lives pretty well, some of them, so I don't think that discomfort as a motivator is all that near to the mark. As the French saying goes, "Pain is the craft, entering the apprentice."
Fear, on the other hand... that's a whole different animal (so to speak). Fear comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, and concentrations, from simple, mild unease to gut-churning, eye-widening, adrenaline-pumping terror. At it's most basic, fear is a survival tool: a big cat roars nearby, your brain dumps adrenaline and endorphins into your blood stream, your fight-or-flight mechanism kicks in, and you run like hell.
What about other kinds of fear, though? For instance, the nervous butterfly stomach you get when you contemplate talking to that pretty girl or that cute guy? The jumpiness and shaky hands when you go to ask your boss for a raise? The cold sweat when you see the blue and red lights of the police in your rear-view mirror? What is the survival value in that?
I don't see any.
What I see is that there's a layer under that kind of fear, a layer that creeps closer to the flip-side of the coin, to the real core of what ails us as individuals and as a species. Why in the world should you be nervous about talking to another person? There are two parts to the answer. The first, most obvious part is that you're afraid of rejection, of disappointment... which, in turn, has yet another layer under it, to wit, that you feel inadequate, unworthy. The second part, and the part which, to me, represents the heart of why we hurt, why we fear, is the illusion of seperation. I've talked in previous entries about two of the fundamental laws of living a magickal life: Gratitude and the Emerald Tablet (as above, so below). I'd like to touch here on a third: All is One. Everything is connected, everything is related, and everything shares the whole world with... everything. Why, then, do we treat other people, other beings, hell, the PLANET as though it was something outside ourselves, something we are seperate from and not a part of? The idea that we are, to quote They Might Be Giants, an Unrelated Thing is ludicrous, preposterous. People go so far as to even apply this idea to god, attempting to live their lives as though god is some terrifying force that exists outside us and of whom we must perforce be afraid.
In light of all this, I'd like to make a distinction, a more clearly defined set of terms. Fear, then, is the natural response to an actual threat (the whole idea of which is also an illusion, but eh, I'll address that on another occassion), whereas Horror is a response triggered by a reaction to perceived construct, to an artificial set of circumstances provoked by what is, essentially, the worst and biggest lie we tell ourselves. It's worse than "I'm not good enough." It's more damaging than "I'm not pretty enough." It's more demeaning than "I'm not smart enough." It creeps up on the edge of self-anihilation: "I don't belong. I'm not part of the world."
...and that, my friends, is pretty damn horrible.
If you're reading this, take my word for it: you belong. You're a part.
...and you're more than good enough, more than pretty/handsome enough, more than smart enough. You are, in fact, indispensible, and we ALL need you.
In closing, let me say this: I KNOW, for a FACT, that every single one of you knows someone who "isn't good/smart/pretty/talented/[fill in the blank]" enough. So stop what you're doing, now, and show them this. If you can't show them this, tell them.
Who knows what you might start?