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The Lucilius Parables, Volume I


October 30th, 2018

Imagine for a moment an old two story house, like one you might find in a quaint town in the Midwest of the United States, or perhaps New England.


Often in such houses, on the second floor, often in the guest bedroom or the second bedroom there will be a door that seems at first glance to be a second closet.  But open it and directly behind it is a dark staircase.  A staircase that leads up to a dark attic.


If this sounds like something out of a Stephen King novel, then perhaps that is appropriate.  Ascending to a dark and unknown place is bound to be fraught with a sense of fear.


Picture something else for a moment: a long corridor of doors.  Open a door and perhaps it leads to another room or corridor filled with doors, but every once in a while, we open a door and there is a dark staircase.


This is a simple architectural analogy for opportunities in life.  Opportunities are often spoken of with the allusion of doors.  We’re all familiar with the adage: “one door closes, another door opens” but our image of the eerie staircase right behind the door perhaps paints a more accurate picture of the experience of an opportunity.  Real opportunity in life comes with a signal of fear>.  Often it is couched in the possibility of our failure, or the idea that everyone will think our idea is stupid or silly.  The whole gambit of human dread is available and almost always frames the doorway of real opportunity.  And so the menacing Stephen king-esque stairway to some unknown height is perfectly placed.  A staircase as an analogy is a literal levelling-up.   By climbing a staircase we literally level up from our current level to the next one.  So why shouldn’t the doorways of opportunity be coupled with the looming staircase behind?


Could such foreboding darkness that we look up into be more appropriate for the fear that comes along with trying something new?  I think not.


Such darkness may simply symbolize our inability to see the future.  Relative to bright daylight, we are virtually blind in the dark. 


But if we can gather courage and take the first step.  Perhaps our eyes will adjust ever so slightly. 


We might not be able to see the future, but the next step we can take might become a little more clear.  Like a stepping stone emerging in the fog, even if we cannot see it, we can reach out with our foot and feel around for a secure place to step, and perhaps with luck, it’ll be a step up.


The fascinating thing about courage is that it functions like a muscle.  The more we exercise it, the better it performs, and with enough training the whole concept of ‘having courage’ can feel like a habit, like a routine – we can grow so comfortable with tempting fate with our resolve and hard work that when scary staircases or monstrous obstacles present themselves, we don’t simply get to work, we can smile, and laughingly lean into such situations, to feel out this dark and unknown path or hurdle this monstrous obstacle. 


As with anything, the first time is always the scariest and most difficult.   Not because of the actual task at hand, but because of how it exists within our mind.


Fear, as we’ve explored before here on Tinkered Thinking is simply the price of entry for engaging with the unknown.  But as with anything that we might engage in, whether it be buying in bulk or being a loyal customer, the price of entry gets less and less the more we engage.  Simply put,  the more fear you face, the less fear you feel.


The reason why we are stimulated by horror movies along side dramas and comedies is that some parts of life can be as scary as a horror movie, like when we wake up, go about our day and some opportunity comes up, and for a moment we freeze, like opening a door and finding behind it some dark staircase.


With doorknob in hand, we would be best to thoughtfully pause, and look up into the darkness.  We might want to remember the heroes from our favorite stories and movies.  We might even be bold enough to grow curious about such darkness and think..


“I wonder what’s up there.”


Perhaps we might even respond to our own question.  We might think….


“There’s only one way to find out.”



This episode references two foundational episodes of Tinkered Thinking: Episode 63: The Etymology of Fear and Episode 42: Level-Up.

Check out the Tinkered Thinking   Reading List

Dive in to the Archives

Podcast Ep. 198: The Door and The Dark Staircase

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